It’s not often that you look at an exhibition with the help of the very apparatus that is its subject. But so it is with “The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal” at the Grey Art Gallery at New York University, one of the most unusual, ravishing exhibitions of the season.
It presents 80 small notebook renderings in shifting combinations of ink and pencil by the Spanish neuroanatomist Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934) that are considered among the world’s greatest scientific illustrations. Together they describe a fantastic netherworld of floating forms, linear networks, bristling nodes and torrential energies. They posit the thing between your ears as an immense cosmic universe, or at least one of the most intricate of all of nature’s creations. That the images are also undeniable as art only adds to the complexity of the experience.
The exhibition is up through March 31st if your in NYC – it’s held at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, who describe the show:
The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal is the first U.S. museum exhibition to present the extraordinary drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal (Spain, 1852–1934), the father of modern neuroscience. Cajal’s astonishing depictions of the brain—which combine cutting-edge scientific knowledge with consummate draftsmanship—offer much greater clarity than photographs, so much so that they are still in wide use today. Featuring approximately 80 of Cajal’s drawings, the show will situate them within the history of scientific illustration from the 16th to 19th centuries, and juxtapose them with contemporary visualizations of the brain. Organized by the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota in collaboration with the Cajal Institute, the exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated book published by Abrams.
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