The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Friday, September 20, 2019

London Show Explores Skin as Human Body's Frontier
Superficial blood vessels of the head and neck. Coloured mezzotint by J. F. Gautier D'Agoty, 1748. Photo: Courtesy Wellcome Library, London.

By: Isabel Coles

LONDON (REUTERS).- "Visitors may find some images in this exhibition disturbing," reads a sign at the entrance to the Wellcome Collection's latest exhibition: "Skin."

"Skin" tracks attitudes toward the human body's largest organ since the 15th century from scientific, artistic and historical perspectives.

The exhibition is divided into four parts: objects, marks, impressions, and after-life. There is also a Skin Lab, which looks at recent developments in skin science.

A black and white photograph of a patient in a Parisian hospital is the first piece in the exhibition. Running the length of the patient's back is a giant scar.

"This photograph sums up a lot of the underlying themes in the exhibition, first and foremost the exploration of skin as a physical and metaphorical frontier between the inside and outside of the body," co-curator of the exhibition Lucy Shanahan told Reuters.

"Another thing that recurs throughout the exhibition is this strange paradox between something horrific and something beautiful," she added.

For early modern anatomists, skin was superfluous. Figures in 16th century anatomical diagrams were drawn without skin, or participating in the removal of their own skin, as if undressing.

"The illustrations were obviously intended for medical purposes, and yet they have this incredible artistry to them," said Shanahan.

"Marks," the second section of the exhibition, explores the idea of skin as a document of a person's experiences.

In "Medical Heirlooms," artist Tamsin Van Essen re-creates the texture of various skin conditions - psoriasis, the affects of syphilis and acne - on 17th and 18th century apothecary jars.

"They're really about challenging our prejudices toward skin disease... what's really intriguing is that you're drawn toward them as beautiful objects, but once you discover what they are, your feelings toward them might shift," Shanahan commented.

"Healing of Wounds," an educational video for medical undergraduates in the 1960s, is "not for the faint-hearted," says Shanahan. "In fact, there have been several people fainting whilst watching it," she adds.

The film shows a layer of skin being scraped off a patient's thigh for grafting onto a wound. "A lot of people have mentioned graters and kebabs," Shanahan said.

Pieces of tattooed human skin from the 19th century are on display beside a case devoted to the Maori tradition of tattooing.

Aging is also examined through photography and art.

Two close-up films, one of perspiration and the other of spots being squeezed, are on show. At such high magnification, the subject of the footage is not immediately clear.

"It's like looking at a strange lunar landscape with small creatures burrowing their way out," said Shanahan.

Also in the collection is a small book: a treatise on virginity bound in human skin. "It is bound with a piece of female skin, tanned by myself with sumac" reads an inscription inside the front cover.

The Peruvian mummy in the "after-life" room shows the durability of skin, even hundreds of years after death.

"Looking at the skin itself, it is utterly remarkable how strong and resilient it is," Shanahan noted.

Hanging on a rail in the Skin Lab are garments from designer clothing range SkinBag. The waistcoats and jackets, which are made from skin-like, rubber-based materials encourage visitors to think of clothing as a second skin.

Pharmaceutical pioneer and avid collector Henry Wellcome's vast collection was the starting point for the exhibition.

"The last decade has revealed a burgeoning interest and fascination with human skin, particularly among philosophers, writers, artists and designers," said Shanahan in a statement. "So there couldn't be a better time to get under the surface of this subject."

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

Wellcome Collection | "Skin" | Skin Lab | London |

Today's News

August 13, 2010

Extremely Rare 2,200-Year Old Gold Coin Uncovered by Excavations at Tell Kedesh

HBO Archives to Celebrate 75th Anniversary of the March of Time® Documentary Series

Romantics Display Opens at Tate Britain Following Major Re-Hang of the Clore Galleries

Archaeologists from Cardiff University Discover Ancient Roman Monumental Buildings

Works by Rackstraw Downes on View this Winter at the Portland Museum of Art

London Show Explores Skin as Human Body's Frontier

Tacheles: Berlin's Alternative Scene Fights for Survival

'Lucy' Species Used Stone Tools, Fossil Study by California Academy Says

Mumbai's Taj Hotel Reopens Sunday After 2008 Attacks

MoMA Launches Free iPhone App, Now Available on App Store

Christina Aguilera Lends Her Voice to Support the Arts

Money Fair in Boston Showcases $100,000 Bills, Rare Coins

NYC Seeks to Reclaim Notable Central Park Drawings

Dr. Shirley Thomson, Former Director of the National Gallery of Canada, Died

Nashville Last Stop for Masterpieces Before Works Return to Paris

Museum of Modern Art Celebrates Pioneering Filmmaker Ida Lupino

Award-Winning 'Cathy' Comic Strip Ending After 34 Years

BLM Wraps Up Meetings on Colorado River Art Proposal

New York City on Track for Record Number of Tourists in 2010

Bonhams to Sell Replica Spitfire for the Royal British Legion

Aspen Art Museum's Summer Benefit Gala artCRUSH Raises $1.5 Million

Renowned International Artists to Display New Works at Beyond/In Western New York

Muslim Gravestones Removed from Jerusalem Cemetery

South Korean Fashion Designer Andre Kim Dies at Age 74

National Museum of American History Accepts Red Hat Society Donation

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Holocaust 'masterpiece' causes uproar at Venice film festival

2.- To be unveiled at Sotheby's: One of the greatest collections of Orientalist paintings ever assembled

3.- Bender Gallery features paintings by up and coming Chicago artist Michael Hedges

4.- Lévy Gorvy exhibits new and historic works by French master in his centenary year

5.- Artificial Intelligence as good as Mahler? Austrian orchestra performs symphony with twist

6.- Fascinating new exhibition explores enduring artistic bond between Scotland and Italy

7.- Exhibition explores the process of Japanese-style woodblock production

8.- Robert Frank, photographer of America's underbelly, dead at 94

9.- The truth behind the legend of patriot Paul Revere revealed in a new exhibition at New-York Historical Society

10.- Hitler bust found in cellar of French Senate

Related Stories

London Show Explores Skin as Human Body's Frontier

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful