PRINT February 1990


We think of Anatomy in terms of Evolution, and our question is always “whence?” and “how?” Vesalius thought of Anatomy in terms of Design, and his questions, had he been philosophically articulate, would have been “whither?” and “why?”

—Charles Singer, A Short History of Anatomy from the Greeks to Harvey, 1957

MUCH CELEBRATED ART COMES at the end of a tradition, and is recognized in terms defined by it. But certain artists appear to rediscover, under the pressure of new conditions, a lost or buried concern. Their processes of exhumation and dissection recall the malodorous explorations of Renaissance masters who haunted gibbet and graveyard. Kiki Smith’s anatomical art is of this second kind, and it requires, then, not a definition of achievement but a cataloguing of its possibilities.

Smith’s is a timely subject—the body has become a political battleground, as the various organs of social

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