The Body: Looking In and Looking Out

August 12 — December 23, 2015
Ripin Print Gallery

Instruments of perception and discovery—lenses, mirrors, cross-sections, and vanishing points—appear throughout this selection of more than 40 works from the AMAM collection and on loan from the Oberlin College Library’s Special Collections department, the Science Library, and the Clarence Ward Art Library. Presented side by side, works by visual artists and philosophers of natural science offer insights into ways of knowing and representing the corporeal nature of existence.

Ranging from old master prints to sculptural assemblages, the objects in this exhibition ask us to examine the relationship between truth and our ideas about the truth. They ask us to imagine what can be known but never accurately portrayed. And they ask us to examine the technologies and media that—in turn—look at us.

A recently acquired anatomical print (seen here) illustrates the long association in Western scientific tradition between dissection and knowledge. Its maker, Jacques-Fabien Gautier-Dagoty, was an anatomist, engraver, entrepreneur, and self-styled inventor in 18th-century France. Early in his career, he drew from life while attending public anatomy demonstrations in Paris; later, he performed dissections himself.

Curated by Associate Professor of English Wendy Beth Hyman and students in her spring 2015 senior seminar "Words and Things." Wendy Kozol, professor of comparative American studies, provided curatorial assistance.

Jacques-Fabien Gautier-Dagoty (French, 1716–1785)
Man Seen from the Rear, Ecorché and Dissected, Except for the Right Arm and Face, Kneeling on a Bench, 1759
Etching and engraving with mezzotint in four plates
R. T. Miller Jr. Fund, 2014.53