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Hokes Medical Arts - Prints and Drawings from the Hokes Archives

Curated by Beauvais Lyons
Hokes Archives

November 9 - December 15, 2006

Planche 144
L'Anatmie, Planche 144

As proprietor of Hokes Scholarly Lithography from 1901 to 1933, Everett Ormsby Hokes published a wide range of scientific books and manuals. While he is best known for his archaeological [research], particularly his work on ancient near eastern cultures of the Apasht and the Aazud, his contributions to the study of medicine are noteworthy. This exhibition offers a selection of medical and anatomical prints and drawings from over 1,700 color bookplates, as well as a series of preparatory drawings.

After studying painting and graphics at the London Academy of Fine Arts, Hokes worked as an apprentice in two London print houses in the 1890s. Aside from required courses in figure drawing, he had no specialized training in medicine or medical illustration, which occasionally created obstacles to the acceptance of his work in the academic community. However, the inventive and whimsical designs, which combined elements of aesthetic beauty and the grotesque, have made these works popular among amateurs and artists alike. His prints were collected by Guillaume Apollinaire and other artists associated with the Surrealist movement such as Max Ernst and Hans Arp.

Dissection 458

Hokes published medical and anatomical illustrations for English, American, French, German, and Polish journals, including the Catalogue of Amputated Body Parts. While his work covered a range of subjects, he developed an international reputation for his depictions of rare internal diseases and anatomical anomalies.

One of the most unusual bookplates in the exhibition is an unauthorized English translation of “The Philosophy of Liebniz,” which features a series of intestinal renderings to accompany one of Liebniz’s most metaphysical essays. The exhibition also includes a set of elaborate color pencil “dissection drawings” prepared for an unpublished anatomical catalogue. Mary Preston Clapp, who wrote a biography on Hokes, noted that the exact genesis of this project is unknown.
The library of the Hokes Archives is comprised of most of the medical works published by Everett Ormsby Hokes. One notable item that is not included in the exhibition is the full-body, nine-color lymphatic and circulatory diagram printed in 1908 for Dr. Henrik Günter of the Cleveland Institute for Electro-Magnetic Therapy.

-Beauvais Lyons, Director of the Hokes Archives
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Encyclopedia of Body Parts - Plate 342

In recent decades, numerous scholars and artists have addressed the subject of the body. Barbara Stafford’s Body Criticism: Imaging the Unseen in Enlightenment Art and Medicine (MIT Press, 1991) offers a history of medical and anatomical science that has evolved since the eighteenth century. More recently, feminism has declared the body a contested territory in relation to the ideals of personal liberty. Given the current political discourse regarding access to health care, and the increasing cultural attention given to beauty and health, the conceptualization and representation of the body suggest multiple levels of meaning.

The exhibition, Hokes Medical Arts, is comprised of twenty-five prints and drawings that appear to be authentic depictions of abnormal human anatomy. Instead, they are works of academic parody that employ a documentary tone common to science museums, relating this project to the history of medical quackery. The prints and drawings in the exhibition are also informed by the visual conventions of scientific illustration and nineteenth-century color lithography. Critic Arthur Blade stated that these works “serve as a bridge between the scholarship of Dr. Gray and the whimsy of Dr. Seuss.”

In 2001, Beauvais Lyons developed The George and Helen Spelvin Folk Art Collection, an exhibition that examined the creation and connoisseurship of contemporary folk and outsider art. Most recently, he was instrumental in bringing a centaur specimen to the John C. Hodges Library at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville as a permanent display. In 2002, Lyons was a Fulbright lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznañ, Poland, and subsequently coordinated the IMPACT 4 International Printmaking Conference there and in Berlin, Germany.

More information about the Hokes Archives is available at