Tag Archives: art

A Few Cautionary Comics

After a long holiday weekend, your heads are probably a bit fuzzy and perhaps you’re overwhelmed with work, so it seemed safe to stick with something simple, i.e., comic books.   So today we offer four lovingly executed illustrations of things not to do in emergency situations.  Their original source  — presumably some sort of Red-Cross-issued faux comic book — remains something of a mystery, though we can thank Mostly Forbidden Zone, an eclectic trove of vintage scans from old books and magazines, for their appearance online.








Book Surgeries 2: Anthropodermic Books

vesaliusOur last entry on book surgeries got us thinking about a more grisly nexus of books and anatomy, in particular: anthropodermic bibliopegy, or the use of human skin in bookbinding.

If you thought such things only existed in concentration camp mythology and The Evil Dead movies, think again. Genuine examples can be found in museums the world over.  London’s Wellcome Library in London has one; Brown University in Providence, and Berkeley’s Bancroft Library each have one; Harvard has two, and The Mütter Museum boasts four examples including one sporting a tattoo.

Though reasons for the creation of such volumes were varied, the rationale is more or less apparent in many cases as with the skin from dissected cadavers used to bind anatomy books, or the skin of convicted murderers punitively employed in the binding of accounts of their trials. Less obvious, and more creepy — if one can really parse such things when it comes to books bound in human skin — would be the Bancroft Library’s  example created during the French Revolution– a book of common prayer.

Nor is the practice a thing of the past, as made clear this month by the appearance of a story about a Russian writer Maksim Aleshin currently writing a book he plans to have bound in his own skin, a proposition serious enough to have already placed the book on the market.  It’ll be  $100,000, so start squirreling away funds now as you’re sure to have competition from other ghoulish collectors, including the small but dedicated followers of the anthropodermic bibliopegy  interest group on FaceBook.


Book Surgeries: Brian Dettmer

The delightful science/culture blog Biophemera pointed us to the work of artist Brian Dettmer who creates his astounding altered books via a strictly subtractive process involving no more than an X-acto knife and creative vision. Though Dettmer performs his surgeries on old books on a variety of topics, we’ve chosen a few favorites with a medical theme because…. well, that’s just how we are.


The Household Physicians, 2008

Libraries of Health, 2008

Diseases of the Eye

Diseases of the Eye, 2005

Ever Felt a Felt Scrotum?


We don’t regularly patrol needlecraft blogs for topical material, but want to thank Scott of Laughing Squid for alerting us to this entry on Mr X Stitch discussing the work of Rachel Bernstein, a fiber artist working in New York with anatomical themes and subjects.

Bernstein comments on her unusual choice of subject:

In some of my work, I depict the body’s interior, challenging conventions of beauty. Inner organs are often presented as a subject of horror or, perhaps, clinical interest. But organs are as beautiful as the contours of our exteriors.I depict components of the digestive, circulatory, and muscular systems using organic materials such as felt and needlepoint to emphasize the delicacy and fragility of inner organs. They transform those parts that we least like to see into objects of exquisite and gentle intrigue.




The Swallowing Plates by Lisa Wood

A while ago I blogged this for Laughing Squid, and am reposting it here as it clearly reflects The Art of Bleeding’s own icky medical obsessions.


Does the name Chevalier Jackson ring a bell? No? Then you’re probably not a laryngologist or obsessive fan of Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum and its collection of medical oddities —  in particular the flat-files in which Dr. Chevalier Jackson obsessively-compulsively aranged his 2,000-piece archive of: “Foreign Bodies Removed from the Food and Air Passages.”

But you don’t need to know Jackson or have visited the museum to appreciate the work of San Francisco artist, collector, and jewelry designer Lisa Wood, who has created her own imaginative interpretation of the eccentric doctor’s collection using dinner plates, Victorian tintypes, and various esophagus-sized trinkets.

Each of Wood’s “Swallowing Plates”, published in her book The Swallowing Plates, Objects Swallowed and Recovered From the Human Body, serve up its tiny portion of doom along with matched narrative spun from the artist’s imagination — such as that of little Marion Pickering whose game of catching jacks in her mouth, claims not only her own life but the right arm of her guilt-ridden mother who flings herself before a train.

Those interested in a more literal (yet notably poetic) account of things that go down the wrong way and the doctor who loved them, may want to consult Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them, by award-winning author Mary Cappello.

For  a look at Wood’s other work, check out her recent set of insect dioramas currently on display at Gold Bug, Pasadena’s retail answer to the Mütter Museum.


When Candy isn’t Dandy



American artist Stephen Shanabrook gives new meaning to the phrase “dark chocolate” with his 2006 piece “On the Road to Heaven Highway to Hell,” an exacting duplicate of the remains of a suicide bomber sculpted in everyone’s favorite confection.

Shanabrook, who spent his youth working at a chocolate factory, has previously turned the medium to macabre ends with his “Morgue Chocolates” series — a set of luxury chocolate boxes filled with confections representing stab wounds, bullet wounds, rough autopsy sutures, and other trauma sites.  Like his suicide bomber, these pieces are crafted in loving detail.  And there’s no questioning the realism as these sweets were cast from molds Shanabrook made from actual bodies while visiting morgues in Russia.

Not appetizing, you say?  Apparently not everyone agrees, as some of Shanabrook’s pieces have disappeared into hungry mouths while on exhibition.  “Mostly kids,” he explains in an interview with Vice Magazine.  “They’re not scared of it. They just want the chocolate.”

(Pictures via eatmedaily.com)