Einstein's "Art Gallery" Showcases a Painter's Portrayals of the Human Body
A heart pumps blood to the limbs of a runner in motion; a maze of nerve fibers transmits impulses to the brain as a man responds to touch; and a synchrony of blood vessels, nerves and organs steers a swimmer across the ocean. These vivid images of life processes are portrayed within the series of 15 paintings created by painter, illustrator and inventor Arthur Lidov that are now hanging in the anatomy and structural biology department hallway, in Forchheimer.
Paintings by Arthur Lidov hang in a special ‘gallery’ on the sixth floor of Forchheimer.
Originally part of a collection of 48 paintings that appeared in Life magazine’s “The Human Body” series in 1963, the paintings on display represent a gift made to the College of Medicine by Mr. Lidov in 1964. Recently reframed and hung after years in storage—thanks to Jodi Moise, curator of Montefiore’s Fine Art Program and Collection, and Einstein’s development office—the paintings illustrate Mr. Lidov’s fascination with the human figure, as well as his curiosity about the inner workings of the human body.
Depicting the Human Body
Arthur LidovAn avid and largely self-taught painter from an early age, Mr. Lidov painted while pursuing a B.A. in sociology and a graduate fellowship in art history from the University of Chicago. His canvasses often captured physical activity through the actions of dancers, athletes and laborers.
At university, Mr. Lidov attended cadaver dissection sessions to learn more about anatomical details of the human body. He was guided in his endeavors by Dr. Isadore Rossman, who later became professor of community medicine at Einstein and medical director of the home care unit at Montefiore. It was at the behest of Dr. Rossman that Mr. Lidov donated his paintings to Einstein.
An active member of the Chicago artists’ community, Mr. Lidov was renowned as a painter and medical illustrator who skillfully interpreted complex technical concepts in his art. Alexandra Wool, Mr. Lidov’s widow and an artist herself, observed, “Arthur thought much about the nature and functions of the human body, and often represented them in paint and plaster.”
Genesis of the Series
In 1962, Mr. Lidov painted one of his major works, “The Net That Secretes Mathematics,” which was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Upon seeing the work, the art editor of Life magazine commissioned Mr. Lidov to create paintings for the “Human Body” series, published by the magazine the following year.
To complete the series, Mr. Lidov met with scientists and doctors to learn more about the physiological and molecular mechanisms behind biological processes. While painting intricacies of the human cell, he researched the work of scientists using electron microscopy and worked from pictures taken through an electron microscope. According to series notations, to depict enzymes breaking down molecules within a cell, he consulted with biochemists at Rockefeller University—even building a model consisting of more than 1,000 tiny plastic balls.
“The paintings were enthusiastically received by readers of all ages when they were published, even with the lamentable magazine reproduction of the time,” Ms. Wool recalled.
During his career, Mr. Lidov also contributed to Time, Fortune, the Saturday Evening Post and other general and special interest magazines. His paintings have appeared at the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C., as well.
“Today, young people are re-discovering these paintings on the internet, and it’s wonderful to see that happening,” noted Ms. Wool. “We’re so glad that Einstein decided to take its Lidovs out of the closet and place them where members of the community can enjoy them.”
Posted on: Monday, March 06, 2017