Inventing the bodily interior: Écorché figures in early modern anatomy and von Hagens' Body Worlds

Stephens, Elizabeth A. (2007) Inventing the bodily interior: Écorché figures in early modern anatomy and von Hagens' Body Worlds. Social Semiotics, 17 3: 313-326. doi:10.1080/10350330701448611

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Author Stephens, Elizabeth A.
Title Inventing the bodily interior: Écorché figures in early modern anatomy and von Hagens' Body Worlds
Formatted title
Inventing the bodily interior: Écorché figures in early modern anatomy and von Hagens' Body Worlds
Journal name Social Semiotics   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1035-0330
1470-1219
Publication date 2007-09
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/10350330701448611
Volume 17
Issue 3
Start page 313
End page 326
Total pages 14
Editor J. Cadwallader
S. Murray
Place of publication Abingdon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Collection year 2008
Language eng
Subject C1
420303 Culture, Gender, Sexuality
750202 The creative arts
379999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified
Formatted abstract
Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds exhibition contextualises its display of plastinated bodies within the Renaissance tradition of écorché (or flayed body) art - surrounding its figures with screen-prints of early modern anatomical illustrations, labels bearing explanatory medical information, and quotations about the body and mortality from religious and philosophical sources. This paper argues that the early modern écorché figure informs not only the iconography, but also the kind of anatomical knowledge - the anatomised vision of the body - that Body Worlds reproduces. While images of early modern anatomical art serve to foreground the declared educational aim of the show, primarily by contextualising it within a long history of public anatomy, they also reveal that for von Hagens, as for the Renaissance anatomists before him, the anatomical significance of the body is to be found by removing its skin and exposing its interior. Such images do not simply reveal the inside of the body, this article demonstrates, but rather represent the invention of a specifically modern concept of bodily interiority, one intricately connected to a wider reconceptualisation of the body as individual and self-contained.
Keyword Von Hagens
anatomical art
écorché figure
body
skin
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

 
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Created: Mon, 18 Feb 2008, 15:38:45 EST by Roz Berg on behalf of Centre for History of European Discourses