Anatomy Art

Anatomy ArtAnatomy Art – Cultural Significance in the Depiction of the Human Body

Anatomy art is a creative, often imaginative, as well as educational.  The mission is the reveal both the internal and external structure of the human body. The art is developed using historical, cultural, physiological and anatomical context. The interest and fascination with the appearance of the external and internal human body has lasted centuries and continues to inspire. Using the historical and cultural context, it is evident that ignorance and myth led many cultures to believe that some organs had special powers.

The liver, for example, was thought to have the powers to predict the outcome of war, produce blood, provide heat and moisture, and create an easy going, happy, and generous personality. Aristotle considered the heart to be the seat of intelligence and source of body heat while the Egyptians believed the heart was central to life and morality. The early Egyptian cultures gave little credence to the brain. They discarded the brain in the embalming process since they did not believe it had any meaningful function. Plato and later Greek philosophers believed that the brain was responsible for higher intellectual functions. The cultural history of the organs provides the artist with a rich and colorful palette from which to create historically interesting and meaningful anatomy art.

Anatomy Art – How the Organs were Identified

As the true nature of anatomy unfolded with anatomic dissection, the structures were named and described based on the culture doing the investigation. If a structure reminded the anatomist of a smaller version of another structure in the body it was titled accordingly. For example, the cerebellum (little brain), mammillary bodies (breasts), auricle (little ear), and cilia (hair eyelash) all are smaller versions of another structure. The names of animals were also used to name structures such as arachnoid (spider), cauda equina (tail of a horse), caudate lobe of the liver (tail), penis (tail), coccyx (cuckoo), muscle (little mouse), and hippocampus (sea monster, combination horse and dolphin). Structures that looked like food products were also used for names such as placenta (flat cake), pyriform sinus (pear shaped), vagina (sheath of a corn husk) and amygdala (almond).

Anatomy Art – How the Organs were Defined

Anatomically, organs are defined according to the parts that make them up, their size, shape, position, character, and connections to the rest of the body. The connections to the body include vascular lymphatic, neurohormonal, and connective tissue elements. The combination of structure and function in an anatomy art piece may for example highlight the metabolic factories in the liver, right and left functions in the brain, moods of the brain, pumps in the heart, pulling together or collaboration of syncitial formation of cardiac myocytes, kneading function of the colon, transport functions of the tubes of the body, protective function of the skin and membranes, and supportive function of the bones ligaments and tendons. The organization of the organs, their inter-connectivity by lifelines, and collaborative function expose the miracle of life through the concept “ units to unity,” enabling transcendence to the mind and soul of the person.

The mission of Art in Anatomy is to display the miracle and beauty of the human body in entrance halls of healthcare offices, exhibits, and other mediums such as educational and marketing materials. Ashley Davidoff MD, who is both an artist and a practicing radiologist, creates all the anatomy art. Please explore the collection of art available in the shop. If you have specific requirements, please contact us at