Artists have been drawing anatomy of humans inside and out since at least Leonardo's time, but it took an unusual polymerization technique to create a scenario in which artists could go beyond figure drawing and draw the interior of human bodies positioned in action poses. "Bodies … The Exhibition" is a museum show featuring actual human bodies that have been preserved by replacing the water in the specimens with a clear polymer. One version of the exhibit has been housed in a building at New York City's South Street Seaport for several years, and the management has always allowed artists to draw the bodies. But a few years ago, they expanded this outreach to artists with Sketch Nights, which allow people using dry media to set up easels after hours and draw and sketch from the 19 full bodies and 250 organs and partial body specimens on view.
Artists working from dissected bodies may have a different, marvelous chance to learn about human anatomy, but this exhibition offers a much simpler way. You don't have to be enrolled in a class or have special permission, and the queasy factor is largely curtailed because the specimens seem more like highly realistic statues than dead bodies. They are actual bodies, however, and the ability to draw them close-up without the perpetual crowds present during business hours makes this opportunity a smart choice for artists in the New York City area.
Hosting artists walk around and comment on each attendees' body drawing. The exhibition's standard entry is charged for the first Sketch Night one attends, and it is half price for all subsequent Sketch Nights. Artists must arrive at or before 7 p.m. to participate. "Bodies … The Exhibition" is planning additional Sketch Nights in the fall.
For more information, visit the Bodies website.
by Kurt Long, 2008, colored pencil drawing, 14 x 11. Collection the artist.
Long won the Drawing BODIES competition in 2008, in which artists drew from the specimens at "Bodies … The Exhibition" and entered a contest to win a master class with a New York City anatomy artist.