Medicine Through the Artist's Eyes: Before, During, and After the Holocaust

Pre-Holocaust German art celebrates the doctor as a hero, triumphant over disease and poor hygiene. It emphasizes the ontological conception of disease and the ability of medicine to cure pathology or remove it. Some New Objectivity artists question this conceptualization by pushing it to the extreme of realistic representations. However, the clinical encounter has virtually disappeared from post-Holocaust art. Medicine is depicted in three main ways: as an ambiguous and alien Faustian craft; with a focus on holistic notions of healing, thus avoiding biomedicine altogether; or with a focus on the subjective experience of illness, thus ignoring the interaction between medicine and the diseased person.