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.
Extra disease images
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
Grünewald, Isenheim Altarpiece - Khan Academy
Mikiki - Blood Cell artwork - Society6