38 | This Art Will Make You Sick

38 | This Art Will Make You Sick

If Picasso is correct and “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary” then disease and illness would definitely make an appearance. Before vaccines and sanitation, plague and infection were an uncontrollable enemy. How did artists who were witnessing this first hand choose to depict it?

Erin and I are diving into a subject that fascinates us both - infectious diseases. We were inspired by one of our favorite podcasts, This Podcast Will Kill You. In honor of that we are looking at the history of infectious diseases depicted throughout art history.

Cover image - Wellcome Library, London, Young Viennese, 23 years old, one hour before the invasion of cholera and four hours before death, Stipple engraving with watercolor, no date.

Bubonic Plague




Extra disease images

Vik Muniz,  Flowers , 2015, made out of smallpox vaccine

Vik Muniz, Flowers, 2015, made out of smallpox vaccine

Links / articles mentioned

Luke Jerram - Glass Microbiology - See all of the bacterium Jerram’s created

Allison Meier - How Tuberculosis Symptoms Became Ideals of Beauty in the 19th Century - Hyperallergic

Rae Ellen Bichell - Iconic Plague Images Are Often Not What They Seem - NPR

Hannah Lack - The Sick Rose: The Grotesque Beauty of Early Modern Medicine - AnOther

Pulmonary Tuberculosis: a brief history of the disease - McMaster University

Emily Mullin - How Tuberculosis Shaped Victorian Fashion - Smithsonian Magazine

Michael Barrett - The Romance of Tuberculosis - The Week

Rebecca Le Get - Isolation, collapsing lungs and spitting bans—three ways we used to treat TB, and still might - Medical Press

Sardis Medrano-Cabral - The Influence of Plague on Art from the Late 14th to the 17th Century - Montana State University

Dr. Kristen Kerksiek - The Art of Infection - Infection Research

Salma Warshanna-Sparklin - The Art of Smallpox - Johns Hopkins Magazine

Molly Beauchemin - Vik Muniz’ Gorgeous Wallpaper Makes Flowers Out of A Smallpox Vaccine - Garden Collage

Look Closer - The Story of Ophelia - Tate

MoMA - Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series

Grünewald, Isenheim Altarpiece - Khan Academy

Mikiki - Blood Cell artwork - Society6

39 | When You See Color Differently

39 | When You See Color Differently

37 | Exhibit Revisit - No U-Turn

37 | Exhibit Revisit - No U-Turn