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eleanor c BS: Plastination: Exhibition of Human Body (27) RE: BS: Plastination: Exhibition of Human Body 16 Aug 06

Because I make anatomical waxworks I was lucky enough to have dinner with Prof Von Hagens a couple of years ago in the UK. He's a kind and workaholic character driven by a desire to perfect his craft, to spread knowledge and to popularise the field. His technical innovations ( he has perfected, but not invented , plastination) are to my mind one of the great advances of our time. His best plastinates are very original deconstructed views of the body which enhance your sense of the 3rd dimension and the elegance of the structures. His less successful ones are cartoony and a bit undignified. But then, it's more or less figurative sculpture, which is a lifetime's study in itself, never mind all the dissection and chemistry he has to do! In person he's not as odd as the media would portray him, and spends a lot of time discussing chemicals which were a bit beyond me.

Actually the preservation of real specimens is not at all new. At the veterinary museum D'Alfort in Paris are displays by Honore Fragonard, cousin of the more famous painter Fragonard, from the 18th century, of whole human and animal dissections, including a horse and rider, and Sampson with the Ass's Jaw, and I think a llama. No one is too sure how he made them even now. They are spectacular, haunting and, as artworks, more powerful by far than modern Plastinates.

Richard I think the Taschen book you saw is Encyclopedia Anatomica, which is all handmade waxworks , not plastinates, from the Museo della Specola in Florence, 17th - 18th century works by various hands including the fascinating Zumbo. But that's another story!
Also not to be missed are the Towne waxworks, made by a combination of casting and wax modelling ,by Joseph Towne in the 19th century, at the Gordon museum in London

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