THE BLOG

Love Alive in Art: Artists as the Body's Cartographers

05/08/2013 13:42 BST | Updated 04/10/2013 10:12 BST

Ana's Thought: "Art that has beauty and energy can heal your body and your soul."

For centuries, healing and art have been intertwined, forces of energy that exist both within and beyond us. I have long held to the belief that the creation and enjoyment of art has the power to restore. Within my own life, I turn to painting as a salve for my ills. Art is the clear communicator between our bodies and our souls.

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The human body is a fantastic creation in itself, undoubtedly the first subject of man's art and one of its most enduring. There are so many unique aspects of the physical body, twists and turns to be endlessly explored. It is separate but linked to the cerebral and spiritual, the realm from which the desire to create originates. These intersections played a great role in my Dreaming series, paintings in which figures test the boundaries of reality in their movements and positions.

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Detail from Thomas Eakin's The Agnew Clinic.

As with all natural sciences, art has provided a lens of discovery through which understanding of health and medicine has grown. Through detailed studies of anatomy made by skilled draughtsmen, mankind gained insight into the workings of life. As scientists led explorations through the lovely universe hidden within us all, the artist's fascination grew with depicting the journey: Rembrandt and Thomas Eakins each created striking works from their observations of anatomy lessons, capturing the very moment that knowledge of the body was shared.

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The great men whose works moved the world of medicine forward have been praised through the art of the ages. Countless artists from Rubens to Girodet have depicted Hippocrates, the Father of Western Medicine famed for his revolutionary philosophy of pathology. Albert Edelfelt painted a magnificent portrait of Louis Pasteur, whose invaluable efforts led to the reduction and eradication of several diseases. In creating such masterpieces, artists express their love and appreciation for flourishing innovation.

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Detail from Damien Hirst's Anatomy of an Angel.

The art world's curiosity about the workings of the body persists to this day. Damien Hirst has incorporated anatomy into several sculptural works, from a towering, vibrant study of organ systems in bronze (Hymn) to the juncture of physical and spiritual, modern and classical (Anatomy of an Angel). Over thousands of years, our sense of wonder about the ways of the body has only grown - and as long as we find new questions to ask, our art will seek the answers!