Gunter Wolf, MD
Wolf G. “Show Your Wound” Medicine and the Work of Joseph Beuys. Ann Intern Med. 2000;133:927-931. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-133-11-200012050-00031
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2000;133(11):927-931.
Since antiquity, many artists have used medical themes as subjects in their work (1, 2). However, few visual artists use medical subjects broadly, interweaving them through their oeuvres as metaphors for social and political problems. One such artist is Joseph Beuys (1921–1986). His work in the world of medicine is embedded in a framework determined by both science and the human psyche (3). In his installations and sculptures, Beuys incorporated discarded bloody bandages, broken pill bottles, rusty syringes, old medical textbooks, animal bones, radiography films, and other medical artifacts (4-6). In addition, Beuys's work often used symbolic representations of different body parts, such as the placenta, the heart, and the skull (7-11). Although Beuys's artwork is often ugly, puzzling, intimidating, and disgusting on first viewing, he intended it to do more than simply shock. He wanted to develop a novel concept of total art that reflected the social problems of society. It was Beuys's hope that critical confrontation with his art would ignite a healing process in the entire social organism. In this regard, Beuys's drawings, sculptures, and installations are seen as triggers that lead people to question their lives, bring together science and art, and eventually result in the creation of a better society.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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