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Flesh and Bones: The Art of Anatomy

Monique Kornell
With contributions by Thisbe Gensler, Naoko Takahatake, and Erin Travers

This illustrated volume examines the different methods artists and anatomists used to reveal the inner workings of the human body and evoke wonder in its form.

For centuries, anatomy was a fundamental component of artistic training, as artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo sought to skillfully portray the human form. In Europe, illustrations that captured the complex structure of the body—spectacularly realized by anatomists, artists, and printmakers in early atlases such as Andreas Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica libri septem of 1543—found an audience with both medical practitioners and artists. 

Flesh and Bones examines the inventive ways anatomy has been presented from the sixteenth through the twenty-first century, including an animated corpse displaying its own body for study, anatomized antique sculpture, spectacular life-size prints, delicate paper flaps, and 3-D stereoscopic photographs. Drawn primarily from the vast holdings of the Getty Research Institute, the over 150 striking images, which range in media from woodcut to neon, reveal the uncanny beauty of the human body under the skin. 

This volume was published to accompany an exhibition on view at the Getty Research Institute at the Getty Center from February 22 to July 10, 2022. 

Monique Kornell is an independent scholar and curator who specializes in the history of anatomical book illustration and the study of anatomy by artists.

“[A] lively, well-illustrated book.”
—C. A. Hanson, CHOICE

“A perfect resource on the history and evolution of anatomical drawings and anatomy books throughout Europe.”
—Alfonso Huerta, ARLIS/NA

“Kornell and her co-contributors . . . deftly anatomise these extraordinary works, paying minute attention to their immediate production and situating them in a long-durée landscape that spans five centuries.”
—Simon Chaplin, The Art Newspaper

“A masterpiece of anatomy based art, Flesh and Bones: The Art of Anatomy is a unique and impressively informative coffee-table style art book.”
Midwest Book Review 

“This catalogue is a welcome and engrossing testimony to the nearly lost art of both anatomy illustration. The book contains numerous illustrations of anatomical illustration, casts, scenes of academy studios, three-dimensional coloured models with moveable parts and some early photographs. The bibliography, footnotes and index will assist researchers.”
—Alexander Adams, alexanderadamsart

“Before the X-ray, CT scan, or MRI, Renaissance anatomists, draftsmen, and printmakers worked together to visualize and represent the structure and function of the human body. Their work reveals an evolving aspiration to realism and profound creativity and invention, as well as a continuing revision of past efforts to depict and understand ourselves and our place in the world. Monique Kornell’s lavishly illustrated Flesh and Bones takes us on a tour of this history through scholarly discussion and an unmatched range of exemplars, from Berengario da Carpi’s anatomy book of 1523 to rarities such as the life-size figures by the eighteenth-century Bolognese printmaker Antonio Cattani to the contemporary neon work of Tavares Strachan. Combining the best of historical scholarship and beautiful production quality, this is yet another triumph from Getty Publications.”
—Gideon Manning, Associate Professor of History of Medicine, Program in the History of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

The juxtaposition of anatomists, artists, and physician/surgeons is never more important than in the exposition and understanding of the human body. This beautiful, erudite, and comprehensive review of the interaction between art and science is both welcome and instructive. Brought alive through striking illustrations and lively commentary by experts in the field, it is an essential addition to the library of anyone interested in this fascinating subject. The combination of artistic creativity and technical precision, developed over centuries, is revealed in the many ways of representing the body and its functionality.”
—Francis Wells, cardiac surgeon, Royal Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, UK

Flesh and Bones offers a comprehensive and highly original overview of the development of art and anatomy. Lavishly illustrated and eruditely written, this magnificent volume recounts in fascinating detail the emergence of the modern, visual understanding of the human body. It is a masterful accomplishment that reveals the complex strategies that anatomists, artists, and printmakers employed in their efforts to produce realistic and stunningly beautiful images of what lies beneath the skin.”
—Dániel Margócsy, Professor in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, University of Cambridge

Flesh and Bones: The Art of Anatomy is a welcome, intensive examination of the complex relationship between European art and anatomy from the Renaissance to the present. While the exhibition and catalogue delve deeply into the roots and history of artistic practices and conventions that became standard in printed anatomical treatises, they also reveal the extraordinary variety and inherent strangeness of Western anatomical images.”
—Lyle Massey, Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Studies, University of California, Irvine

248 pages
8 x 11 inches
163 color illustrations 
ISBN 978-1-60606-769-7

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Research Institute