Spectacular Bodies
The art and science of the human body from Leonardo to now

The Hayward Gallery


Curated by Martin Kemp and Marina Wallace

Investigating the wonders of the human face and body, Spectacular Bodies: The Art and Science of the Human Body from Leonardo to Now comprised a breathtaking array of treasures from the worlds of art and science. Works of art spanning five centuries were considered in an unexpected context, alongside ancient medical books and instruments, and detailed life-size anatomical wax models. Artworks included anatomical drawings by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Dürer and Stubbs; a unique group of 17th- and 18th- century portraits of Dutch surgeons at work; and masterpieces by Rembrandt, Géricault, Courbet, Degas and Frith.

Photography, sculpture, video and installations by eight contemporary artists – Beth B, Christine Borland, Catherine Dowson, John Issacs, Gerhard Lang, Tony Oursler, Marc Quinn and Bill Viola – provided new perspectives on the subject. Focusing on a variety of issues raised by the historical material, the contemporary works provided alternative ways of thinking about our relationship with science and medicine.