Thursday, June 21, 2018

SAVE THE DATE: Muerte en Bolivia: Field trip to La Paz to Learn about Bolivia's Death Culture, Folklore, and Sacred Coca Leaf with a Native Guide!

This November, we hope you'll join Morbid Anatomy for a very special seven day trip to La Paz, Bolivia where, with a native guide, we'll explore the country's fascinating history, folklore, and death-related traditions, a unique blend of ancient native beliefs and Spanish Catholicism. We'll also learn the storied history of--and have ample opportunities to sample--the coca leaf, sacred plant of the Andes.

We'll visit La Paz's central cemetery for Festival of the Skulls (Fiesta de los Ñatitas), in which human skulls are given offerings of coca leaves, cigarettes and flower petals; the famed witches market, with shops selling dried llama fetuses to bless new constructions, magical charms, and colorful figurines of devils and skeleton saints; and the coca leaf market. Other highlights will include visits to La Paz's Museo de la Coca, the Unesco World Heritage site of the pre-Columbian ruins of Tiwanaku, a blessing of the cars at Lake Titicaca's Copacabana, a visit to the tropical Afro Bolivian town of Coroico, Cholita wrestling, gorgeous colonial churches and convents, and museums packed with astounding treasures. There will also be opportunities to eat native foods, explore markets, and learn the ancient Andean art of coca leaf consumption. Along the way, we'll learn from our knowledgeable tour guide about the folklore and beliefs of this unique culture, past and present. 

More soon; stay tuned! 

Images, top to bottom: Getty Images; Sky News; LatinoFiesta

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New Book on the Art, History and Symbolism of The Tarot by Morbid Anatomy and Strange Attractor Press!

We at Morbid Anatomy are delighted to announce a new project with our good friend Mark Pilkington at Strange Attractor Press: a new illustrated book about the art and history of the tarot. We are just launching a campaign via Unbound in order to help us raise the funds we need to create it. Awards range from a pre-order of the book to include signed, limited edition hardback versions of the book, tarot readings and classes, custom totes, and much more! You can find out more about the book below; you can find out more about our fundraising campaign– and pre-order a copy of the book! – by clicking here. Thanks so much for your interest and support!

Stars, Fools and Lovers will explore the art, history and symbolism of the tarot through dozens of antique and forgotten cards, from the well-known Rider Waite Smith deck to Austin Osman Spare's recently discovered Major Arcana, as well as reinterpretations by contemporary artists.

The tarot's origins stretch back to ancient Egypt but the cards as we know them today have their roots in 18th century Europe as playing cards. Since then, the seventy-eight card deck has become one of the most popular visual oracles of all time, and one of the most adaptable as well. Along the way it has inspired seekers, occultists, artists, film makers, writers, pop stars and fashion designers -- its influence can be seen in the work of the Surrealists as well as the TV series Twin Peaks.

Perhaps the reason for this is because the tarot has an uncanny ability to put us in touch with truths of which we are not consciously aware. The tarot, with its intuitive symbology, provides a bridge to our own unconscious. Or, as some believe, it provides access to invisible worlds beyond our understanding. Regardless of your beliefs and approach, our new book Stars, Fools and Lovers will provide you with the tools you need – along with a wealth of visual inspiration – to begin your own exploration of its complex and rich world.

Stars, Fools and Lovers will contain an array of cards drawn from original and forgotten decks as well as creative reimaginings by contemporary artists. Alongside these images, the book will explore how, over centuries of use, the tarot’s archetypal imagery has evolved and the cards' meanings have shifted. It will investigate the hidden history and many interpretations of the Major Arcana, deciphering the archetypes behind each figure and plumbing their complex histories, and trace the ways in which artists and illustrators from around the world have reinterpreted the Arcanas according to their cultural backgrounds and the problems they faced.

This book includes a history of the tarot and its use, as well as instructions on how to read the cards intuitively, to follow its traditions without dogma and suggests ways to experiment with the cards to find inspiration and enlightenment. The book will also present the thoughts of a variety of professional tarot readers about the pleasures and pitfalls of practical cartomancy.

Written and collected by Morbid Anatomy's Joanna Ebenstein and Laetitia Barbier – herself a professional tarot reader – and Strange Attractor Press's Mark Pilkington, this book is equal parts art book, how-to, history, and a meditation on tarot symbolism and its uses.

Biographies of the authors:

Joanna Ebenstein is a Brooklyn-based artist, writer and the founder of Morbid Anatomy. She is the editor of Death: A Graveside Companion (2017), author of The Anatomical Venus (2016) and co-author of Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy (2014).

After studying art history at the Sorbonne in Paris, Laetitia Barbier became the head librarian of Morbid Anatomy and is a professional tarot reader in New York.

Mark Pilkington is the founder of the London-based Strange Attractor Press and the editor of its irregular Journal. He is the author of Mirage Men (2010) and Far Out: 101 Strange Tales from Science's Outer Edge (2007). He has written on music, art, film, cultural history and esoterica for publications including The Guardian, Frieze, Fortean Times, Boing Boing, The Wire, Sight and Sound, and has contributed to numerous anthologies.

Again, you can make a pledge or pre-order a copy of the book here. Thanks so much for your interest and support!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

SAVE THE DATE Vienna Anatomy Weekend with Josephinum & Narrenturm, October 13 and 14, 2018

We are beyond excited to announce our second Vienna Anatomy Weekend in partnership with two of the world's most magnificent medical museums-- the Josephinum, housing a historical collection of 18th century anatomical wax models crafted by Italy's La Specola workshop, and the pathological-anatomical collection housed in an 18th century former madhouse, the Narrenturm.

This special weekend will include exclusive front and back stage tours of these incredible historic collections, along with the opportunity to draw pieces from the collection. It will also include illustrated lectures by Eduard Winter of the Narrenturm, Martina Peters of the Josephinum, Laurens de Rooy of Amsterdam's Vrolik Museum, wax artist Eleanor Crook, and Morbid Anatomy's Joanna Ebenstein, all touching on the intersections of art and medicine, death and culture.

All programs will be in English.

More details to come soon, but you can stay alerted to updates here.

Image: 18th century Anatomical Venus; Alexander Ablogin/Josephinum

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Vesalius Trust Art and Anatomy Tour: Budapest, Vienna and Prague, October 7-18, 2018

I am delighted to announce The Vesalius Trust Art and Anatomy Tour of Budapest, Vienna and Prague taking place October 7-18, 2018!

The trip--organized and hosted by Morbid Anatomy founder Joanna Ebenstein and medical illustrator Marie Dauenheimer--will include guided visits (and often exclusive behind the scenes tours) of some of the most outstanding European medical museums including Budapest's Semmelweis Museum (bottom image), Vienna's Josephinum (top three images) and Narrenturm (images 4-7), and The Prague Medical Museum and the National Medical Library.

It will also include a sunset cruise on the Danube, visits to Budapest's Castle Hill, a stop off in Bratislava, a guided walking tour of Vienna, a visit to the Secession building, as well aa guided tours of Vienna's Albertina Museum and Belvedere Museum, the latter of which is renowned for its collection of works by Klimt and Schiele. There will also be a stop off at the UNESCO world heritage town Český Krumlov and a visit to its Baroque theater--the most completely preserved such theatre in the world--along with a guided walking tour of Prague featuring a visit to its famous 16th-century astronomical clock with an anthropomorphized figure of death

The trip will take place October 7-18, 2018.The tour price--assuming a shared room--is $4,645. This price included all hotels and transportation by deluxe, private motor coach. It also includes breakfast, many lunches, admission to the Morbid Anatomy Vienna Anatomy Weekend, all museum entries, and more. Our founder Joanna Ebenstein and Marie Dauenheimer will also be on hand for the duration of the trip to answer questions and assist.

You can find out more by clicking here. If you have any questions, please email us at morbidanatomy [at]

All images by our founder, Joanna Ebenstein

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Farewell Mel Gordon

We are Morbid Anatomy are greatly saddened to hear that our good friend--and many times collaborator--Mel Gordon has died. Mel was a very special man, with a brilliant and idiosyncratic mind and a great generosity of spirit. We at Morbid Anatomy feel very lucky to have known him.

RIP Mel. You will be very much missed.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Morbid Anatomy Easter Open House at Green-Wood Cemetery

This Easter week-end (March 31 and April 1), a propitious date for resurrection, please join Morbid Anatomy's Joanna Ebenstein and Laetitia Barbier for an informal gathering, with snacks and refreshments, to celebrate the unveiling of the Morbid Anatomy Library in it's new home, the gorgeous 1877 Fort Hamilton Gate House in Green-Wood Cemetery.

This will also be your first chance to see our new exhibition The Power of Images: Life, Death and Rebirth, a carefully curated selection of art, books, artifacts and ephemera drawn from the Green-Wood archives and the hands and collections of the Morbid Anatomy Community.

Find out more here. Hope very much to see you there!

The Fort Hamilton Gate House is located at Fort Hamilton Parkway and Micieli Place, easily accessible on the F and G trains at Fort Hamilton Station. If arriving at the main entrance (25th Street and 5th Avenue) the Gate House is approximately a 25 minute walk through the Cemetery. The exhibition is not handicap accessible.

Image: From the Green-Wood Cemetery website

Thursday, March 15, 2018

ANNOUNCEMENT: Morbid Anatomy Residency at Brooklyn's Historic Green-Wood Cemetery!

We are beyond delighted to announce that Morbid Anatomy has a found a temporary new home at Brooklyn's fabulous Green-Wood Cemetery!

The residency will be housed in The Cemetery's city landmark 1877 Fort Hamilton Gatehouse (see below). In the attic (below left) will find a new iteration of the Morbid Anatomy Library. Downstairs will feature The Power of Images: Life, Death, and Rebirth, a new exhibition curated by Morbid Anatomy's Laetitia Barbier and Joanna Ebenstein and featuring artworks, artifacts and ephemera from the hand (or private collections) of Kahn and Selesnick, Dana Sherwood, Rebecca Purcell, Ryan Matthew Cohn, Shannon Taggart, Lourdes Sanchez, The Stephen Romano Gallery, Invisible Gallery, Evan Michelson, The Reanimation Library, Friese Undine, J D Powe, Ronni Thomas, Daisy Tainton, Lado Pochkhua, Brian Cotnoir, Joel Schlemowitz, Eva Aridjis, the Green-Wood Cemetery Archives and more.

The Fort Hamilton Gatehouse is right inside the Fort Hamilton gate, located at Fort Hamilton Parkway and Micieli Place, easily accessible on the F and G trains at Fort Hamilton Station or Church Street Station. If arriving at the main entrance (25th Street and 5th Avenue) the Gate House is approximately a 25 minute walk through the Cemetery. The exhibition is not handicap accessible.

The residency will be free and open to the public on weekends, March 31 - June 24, 2018, from 12 - 5. We will also be producing a series of lectures, events, tours and parties as part of the residency; stay tuned for more on that.

We are currently seeking volunteer docents for both the library and exhibition. The shifts will be from 12-5 Saturdays and Sundays, and there is parking on the premises. Sadly, there is no wifi. Docents will receive free admission to one of our Green-wood events in exchange for a shift. If you are interested, please email morbidanatomy [at]

Hope very much to see you there!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Winners of Death: A Graveside Companion Art and Death Book Giveaway!

Thanks to all who entered our recent giveaway of three signed copies of our new book Death: A Graveside Companion, our new, heavily illustrated magnum opus documenting the variety of ways humankind has come to terms with, imagined, visualized and pictured death.

In the spirit of the book, we asked Morbid Anatomy readers to share an image of their favorite artwork or artifact illustrating the intersections of death and beauty, and to tell us about the piece and why they chose it. 

It was very difficult to choose between all the wonderful and imaginative entries, but above are the three images we chose, submitted by--from top to bottom--Instagram user @dagger_of_the_mind, J. Moriarty and Lynn Duenow.

The first image is "Revelation: The Vision of Death," one of 241 illustrations created by Gustave Doré for a deluxe illustrated bible known as La Grande Bible de Tours in 1866. This image was chosen by @dagger_of_the_mind, who said of it "The Artist's command of contrast, the human form, and the inhuman realize the myths that comprise the human condition. And it's badass"

The second image--"Humana Fragilitas (Human Frailty)", painted by by Salvator Rosa in 1656, was sent in by J. Moriarty. Of the piece, the entrant commented "with its many symbols of human mortality scattered throughout, this painting deeply illuminates the fact that the strands of death are as naturally woven into the fabric of our days as are the threads of life. Death here is at once terrifying and beautiful, perfectly capturing the ambivalent relationship we humans with it have. A enchantingly poignant work by such a profoundly bereaved artist, it demonstrates that Death can be a catalyst for the beauteous as much as for the destructive."

The final image was sent in by Lynn Dueno. Lynn did not share any information about the provenance or creator of the piece but we were very much drawn by its folk/tribal aspect which evokes a Kachina Doll. Upon closer inspection, you can see that the crown is composed of illustrations of moulages, while other seemingly abstract patterns are comprised of golden insects and other macabre symbols. Click the image above to see for yourself!

Thanks so much to all who entered! And congratulations to the winners!

You can find out more about the book--and get a copy of your own--here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

RIP Mervyn Heard: Friend, Scholar, Showman

We are very sad to report the death of the wonderful Mervyn Heard. A rare pairing of scholar and showman, he was a genius of the magic lantern, ghost shows and phantasmagoria, and was a contributor to our recent book Death: A Graveside Companion.

He was also a friend and will be sorely missed.

This video by the über-talented Ronni Thomas captures he and his passion exceptionally well. RIP, Mervyn. You shall be missed and remembered.

Monday, November 13, 2017

GIVEAWAY: Win a Signed Copy of our New Book Death: A Graveside Companion

We are delighted to announce a give away of three signed copies of our new book Death: A Graveside Companion, a nearly 400 page compendium of 1,000 images and 19 essays exploring a variety of ways in which humankind has come to terms with, imagined, visualized and pictured death.

In the spirit of the book, we are asking Morbid Anatomy readers to share an image of their favorite artwork or artifact that illustrates the intersections of death and beauty, and to tell us--in no more than 3 sentences--about the piece and why they chose it. 

Entries must be received by midnight on Sunday, November 19th; the three winners will be picked and announced here soon after. PLEASE NOTE: Due to shipping costs, contest only eligible to those in the USA.

There are three ways to enter this contest.
  1. Share in the comment section of this Facebook post
  2. Post on Instagram with the hashtag #deathbookgiveaway
  3. Send it via email to morbidanatomylibrary [at] gmail [dot] com.
Can't wait to see what you come up with!

Images: From FrizziFrizzi review of the book to be found here.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Happy Birthday to "Death: A Graveside Companion:" New Book on Art and Death by our Founder Joanna Ebenstein
We would like to wish a festive happy birthday to Death: A Graveside Companion--the new book by our founder Joanna Ebenstein--whose official US release date is today!

You can order a copy of this epic book which explores, via over 1,000 images and 19 essays, humankind's attempts attempts – mythological, scientific and popular – to imagine, respond to, or find meaning in the mystery of death here.

Image from the book: Ivory Memento Mori by an unknown maker from c. 1640. In the 16th century, the memento mori--or objects created to urge the viewer to contemplate their mortality--moved from the church or the cemetery to the home, with the creation of artworks and objets d’art such as this one. It shows a skeleton standing among symbols of earthly glory, highlighting the futility of vanity and worldly pleasures.

More on the book follows. Hope you enjoy!

Death: A Graveside Companion
Edited by Joanna Ebenstein, Foreword by Will Self
Featuring the Richard Harris Art Collection
Thames and Hudson, October 24, 2017
368 pages, 1,000 illustrations in color and black and white
Available here

A one-of-a-kind art history, Death: A Graveside Companion is a captivating treasury of images that serves as a testament to humanity’s quests—metaphysical, mythological, scientific, and popular—to imagine, respond to, and come to terms with our own inescapable end.

From the hour of death to the afterlife, seven themed chapters exhibit a staggering range of artworks, artifacts, trophies, and keepsakes from around the world and throughout the ages, counterbalanced by nineteen insightful essays, accessible yet scholarly, from contributors across a broad arc of disciplines and perspectives.

In catacombs, crypts, and bone-pits, readers will find reliquaries, embalmings, and mummies; see somber rites and customs morph into the celebrations of Halloween and Day of the Dead; and behold the great artistic traditions—Memento Mori, Vanitas, Danse Macabre—juxtaposed with vernacular tokens, found photography, and curios from bygone rituals in exotic lands. The majority of the images—which range from fine art to scientific illustration to pop culture ephemera—are drawn from the largely unseen collection of Richard Harris, who has amassed over 3,000 objects related to death.

“Today, it is deemed morbid to view images related to death or contemplate death,” says Joanna Ebenstein, founder of Morbid Anatomy, who edited DEATH: A Graveside Companion. “The abundance of images in this book proves that this attitude is by far the exception rather than the rule. This book, I hope, will help provide a balance in our one-sided view of death, in which we tend to avoid it or consider it impolite to speak about despite the fact that it will inevitably happen to each of us, and will restore these forgotten and reviled images to a place of dignity and appreciation as important artifacts of humankind’s attempts to make sense of its most profound mystery.”

Rich in never-before-published material, Death: A Graveside Companionis a book like no other, brimming with morbid inspiration and macabre insights to take to the grave.

Essays (In order of appearance):
  • Medusa and the Power of the Severed Head - Laetitia Barbier, Morbid Anatomy Library
  • Poe and the Pathological Sublime - Mark Dery, Cultural Critic
  • The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death - Bruce Goldfarb, Medical Examiner's Office, Baltimore
  • Art, Science and the Changing Conventions of Anatomical Representation - Michael Sappol, former historian at National Library of Medicine
  • Anatomy Embellished in the cabinet of Frederik Ruysch - Bert van de Roemer, Historian
  • Anatomical Expressionism - Eleanor Crook, Anatomical Artist
  • Playing with Dead Faces - John Troyer, Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath
  • The Power of Hair as Human Relic in Mourning Jewelry - Karen Bachmann, Master Jeweler and Art Historian
  • The Anatomy of Holy Transformation -  Liselotte Hermes da Fonseca, Art Historian
  • The Dance of Death - Kevin Pyle, Artist
  • Eros and Thanatos - Lisa Downing, University of Birmingham
  • Collecting Death - Evan Michelson, Morbid Anatomy Library Scholar in Residence
  • Death in Ancient and Present-Day Mexico - Eva Aridjis, Filmmaker
  • Playing dead – A Gruesome  Form of Amusement - Mervyn Heard, Magic Lantern Scholar and Performer
  • Theatre, Death and the Grand Guignol - Mel Gordon, author of Grand Guiginol and Voluptuous Panic
  • Death-Themed Amusements - Joanna Ebenstein, founder of Morbid Anatomy
  • Art and Afterlife: Ethel le Rossignol and Georgiana Houghton - Mark Pilkington of Strange Attractor Press
  • Holy Spiritualism - Elizabeth Harper, Independent scholar
  • Spiritualism and Photography - Shannon Taggart, photographer and independent scholar

Thursday, November 2, 2017

NEW BOOK: SÉANCE: Spiritualist Ritual and the Search for Ectoplasm: All Souls Day Guest Post by Shannon Taggart

To celebrate All Souls Day today, I asked former Morbid Anatomy Museum artist and scholar in residence Shannon Taggart to write a guest post about her long term project documenting spiritualism, a religion in which devotees attempt to communicate with the souls of the dead.

Shannon is working on a book showcasing this body of work now; titled SÉANCE: Spiritualist Ritual and the Search for Ectoplasm, it will feature her own photographs along with many incredible antique spiritualist photographs. The foreword will be written by actor Dan Aykroyd (creator of the movie Ghostbusters and fourth-generation Spiritualist) and it will contain essays by artist Tony Oursler (author of the incredible Imponderable), writer Constance DeJong and cultural critic Erik Davis.

To find out more (and pre-order a copy of your own), click here. Shannon also wrote a chapter about spiritualism and photography for our new book Death: A Graveside Companion. More on that can be found here.
Spiritualism is an American-born religion that believes we can communicate with spirits of the dead. In 2001, I began photographing Lily Dale, New York, the town which is home to the world's largest Spiritualist community. The residents of Lily Dale soon introduced me to ‘spirit photography’, a practice excluded from the photography text books I studied from. I was shocked to learn of this hidden history. These absurd, outrageous and oddly tender photographs blew me away. I became particularly fascinated with the images of female mediums excreting phantom forms—phenomena known as ‘ectoplasm.’ These were the most uniquely unsettling images I had ever encountered, and I desperately wanted to de-code their meaning. I wanted to understand what ectoplasm was.

Ectoplasm–Spiritualism’s iconic symbol–visually signifies the belief that life and death remain connected. For Spiritualists, ectoplasm is a paradoxical substance that is both spiritual and material. It is described as a fluid that emanates from the medium’s body, comes to life, and then morphs into shape. The word is taken from the Greek words ektos and plasma, meaning ‘outside formed’. The French physiologist and Nobel Laureate Charles Richet, who coined the term in 1894, observed it as ‘a whitish steam, perhaps luminous, taking the shape of gauze or muslin, in which there develops a hand or an arm that gradually gains consistency. This ectoplasm makes personal movements. It creeps, rises from the ground and puts forth tentacles like an amoeba.’ Spiritualists say ectoplasm is soft, soggy, and light sensitive, much like the activated surfaces of photographic materials.

Spiritualism and photography developed at a time In the 19th century when scientific advancements were exposing a variety of forces operating beyond human perception. Disease causing bacteria could be photographed through microscopes; the vastness of the universe was glimpsed through astrophotography; electricity was made visible when placed in contact with photographic materials; X-rays revealed the body’s interior. What else, people wondered, could photography uncover? Spiritualism and photography were brought together in an attempt to create scientific proof of the spiritual dimension, an endeavour that ultimately revealed the complicated relationship that both Spiritualism and photography had with truth.

Spiritualism became the first religion to create an original iconography through the medium of photography. Since the dissemination of early spirit photographs, ectoplasm has taken a place in culture’s visual vocabulary. Like many, I first heard the term ectoplasm via the movie Ghostbusters, co-written by Dan Aykroyd—a fourth-generation Spiritualist. In the fine art world, ectoplasm appears within the work of artists Mike Kelley, Tony Oursler and Zoe Beloff. A painting by the visionary artist Paul Lafolley refers to ectoplasm’s metaphysical meaning, stating— ‘ectoplasm unites life with death.’

Today, a small number of Spiritualist mediums (mostly male, from Europe and the United Kingdom) continue to present ectoplasm. The experience of witnessing these séances is like watching the Victorian spirit photographs jump to life before your eyes. The German medium Kai Muegge even blogs the photographic documentation of his ectoplasmic manifestations alongside the vintage images that resemble his acts.
The forthcoming book, SÉANCE: Spiritualist Ritual and the Search for Ectoplasm, will present my 16 year-long project on contemporary Spiritualism. Part documentary, part ghost story, SÉANCE will present hundreds of original photographs taken in séance rooms around the world, as well as historical imagery related to attempts to capture spirits on film. Spiritualism's photographic past contains some of the most bizarre, absurd and uniquely unsettling images in the history of photography. SÉANCE is a next chapter.
Images, top to bottom:
  1. Barbara McKenzie, Stanley de Brath, Miss Scatcherd and the spirit extra of Gustave Geley, William Hope, 1924. Barlow collection, British Library, London.
  2. Unidentified sitter, Ada Deane, c. 1922. Barlow collection, British Library, London.
  3. Unidentified sitters (2 women), Ada Deane, c. 1922. Barlow collection, British Library, London.
  4. The spirit guides ‘Stella’ and ‘Bessie’with Mrs. Barlow, Fred Barlow, Violet and Ada Deane, (by) Ada Deane, 1920. Barlow collection, British Library, London.
  5. Kate Goligher with ectoplasm and speaking trumpet, W.J. Crawford, 1920.  Cambridge University Library, Society for Psychical Research.
  6. The medium Eva C. with materialization of a women’s face, Albert Von Schrenck-Notzing, 1911, Institute für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene, Freiburg im Breisgau. (left) Medium Kai Muegge with ectoplasm (materialization of a man’s face), Cassadaga, NY, Shannon Taggart, 2013. (right)
  7. A student medium enters a trance, Montcabirol Center for Physical Mediumship, Mirepoix, France, Shannon Taggart, 2014.
  8. Medium Kevin Lawrenson in trance, Montcabirol Center for Physical Mediumship, Mirepoix, France, Shannon Taggart, 2014.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Happy All Saints Day with a the Corpus Sanctus of Saint Victoria, Rome

In commemoration of All Saints Day, we share with you one of our all-time favorite pieces of Catholica related to the cult of the saints. Called a Corpus Sanctus, it is a life-sized effigy of Saint Vittoria (or Victoria ) crafted of wax with human hair and a wreath of flowers. It contains relics related to the saint in the form of her teeth and finger bones. Relics like these are believed to have miraculous powers, usually related to healing.

This piece can be seen today in Rome's Santa Maria della Vittoria, directly across from that Bernini's masterwork The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa.

Photos by our founder Joanna Ebenstein.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Poster for Fritz Lang film Totentanz, or The Dance of Death, Josef Fenneker, 1919
Poster for the lost Fritz Lang film Totentanz, or The Dance of Death, 1919. The film tells the tale of a beautiful dancer who is “used by an evil cripple to entice men to their deaths.” The idea of the Dance of Death stretches back to the middle ages, but continues to have relevance and fascination today.

Find out more about this--and over 1,000 other works at the intersections of art and death--in the new book Death: A Graveside Companion by our founder Joanna Ebenstein. You can find out more--and order a copy of your own!--here.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Morbid Anatomy News and Happenings: Book, Events, Utopia / Dystopia Series with Hauser and Wirth, and More!


We have lots of exciting news and events to announce today.

First up is the new book Death: A Graveside Companion, edited by Morbid Anatomy founder Joanna Ebenstein. This nearly 400 page book is packed with over 1,000 images (many never before published!) and 19 essays exploring the intersections of art and death. You can find out more about the book--or pre-order a copy--by clicking here.

We have organized a number of events to celebrate the book's release. The first will take place at London's Horse Hospital next Wednesday, October 18. This will consists of short talks by a number of contributors including John Troyer, Eleanor Crook and Mark Pilkington. Books will also be available at a discounted rate. Find out more--and get tickets--here.

We also have three book-related events taking place in New York City. The first is our official book release, taking the form of an all day symposium exploring the intersection of death and beauty with nearly a dozen short talks, screenings, and show and tells. It will take place in the historic chapel of Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery on Saturday, October 28. Ticket price includes lunch, and books will be available at a special discounted rate. Green-Wood Cemetery. More (and tickets) here.

A few days later, on Wednesday, November 1 (Day of the dead!) the book's editor will present a selection of images relating to art and death followed by a conversation with Jennifer Wright, author of Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them at New York Public Library. This event is free, but advance registration is recommended; You can find out more (and reserve a ticket) here. The final event will be a a highly illustrated introduction to the ways in which humankind has imagined, come to terms with and even celebrated death at The Brooklyn Historical Society on Thursday, November 2; You can find out more (and get tickets) here.

Ebenstein will also be speaking at Maine's Bowdoin College Museum of Art on the topic of Death, Beauty and Metaphysics: Art, Science and Memento Mori in Early Anatomical Representation
on Thursday, November 9. This event is free and open to the public, and is produced in tandem with the current exhibition The Ivory Mirror: The Art of Mortality in Renaissance Europe. You can find out more here.

And finally, Morbid Anatomy is teaming up with Hauser and Wirth gallery in New York City for an event series entitled Utopia / Dystopia in which we will attempt to investigate, over 7 nights, the following questions, via a series of screenings, talks and presentations:
Is the yearning for a lost paradise a human universal? And is it always doomed to failure? In what ways do our attempts to create a paradise on earth backfire? Is there always, truly, a serpent in the garden?
The first night of this series will explore the seemingly paradoxical idea of Dystopian Amusements; it will take place on Wednesday October 25 and will feature short talks and screenings by writer Jane Rose, Morbid Anatomy founder (and former Coney Island Museum artist-in-residence) Joanna Ebenstein and filmmaker Ronni Thomas. The event is free, but must RSVP; You can find out more (and get tickets) here. 

Future events in the series will include a night devoted to Sexual Utopias with writer Asti Hustvedt, alchemist Brian Cotnoir, and sociologist Massimo Introvigne on Wednesday November 15, and Accidental Dystopia: El Helicoide – From Mall to Prison with Celeste Olalquiaga--author of The Artificial Kingdom--on Wednesday, December 6. More on those events when they go live.

Thanks for your support, and we hope very much to see you at one or more of these great events!