The Beauty of Anatomy

BBC4 (5 x 30 mins)

  • Info

The human body has been the central theme of art since the Venus of Millendorf; the struggle to understand and depict what lies beneath our skin one of the great strands in that history. Our attempts to understand how our bodies work have been marked at each stage by extraordinary imagery: without artistic depictions the study of anatomy would have stood still, and the discoveries of the anatomists have informed and changed art. Art and science have gone hand in hand.

In this series Adam Rutherford, biologist and avid collector of anatomical art, examines the rich history of this intimate relationship. He brings an informed passion to the subject and along the way will meet artists, art critics and art historians, as well as collectors and anatomists, to help him uncover the meaning and power of these works. While anatomical art has played a vital role in conveying information, many of the works are also beautiful and compelling in their own right: extraordinary privileged insights into the hidden world beneath our own surfaces, records of the Incredible Journeys taken by anatomists into the body. Others are whimsical, surreal, beautiful or grotesque – works of art that reveal as much about the outer world as they do about that hidden beneath the skin.