There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
TO MAY 20
Without breaking a sweat, the organizers of “Visionary Anatomies” have found 11 artists whose work plumbs the relationship between humans and their mortal flesh, updating for an age of CAT scans and MRIs several centuries of draftsmen’s efforts to depict the inner workings of the human body. Two artists find that good old-fashioned oil paint mimics X-rays with stunning accuracy: Joy Garnett, whose blue-tinted renderings are based on a box of discarded X-rays, and Tatiana Garmendia, who layers gold leaf on a gold-toned faux X-ray. Mike and Doug Starn highlight visual linkages between tree branches and arterioles in a large, waxy diptych (Blot Out the Sun #1 is pictured) that pays homage to stereographs and other obsolete photographic methods. Frederick Sommer’s free-form collages made of old anatomical drawings suggest surrealist photomontages from the ’20s, and Predrag Pajdic offers a stern-looking, partially flayed male model in meticulously cross-hatched ink. Less successful is a piece by the collective (art)n that tries to analogize the scanning techniques of advanced medical devices by assembling a “virtual sculpture” of a man. Unfortunately, the backlit 3-D image—made from photographs taken from 64 different perspectives—gives off a cheesy ’70s look instead of the intended cutting-edge vibe. Far sharper is the contrast made by Stefanie Burkle’s pairing of two interior photographs taken in Paris. On the left, a natural-history museum provides a dated but memorable tableau of a skinless human mannequin seemingly leading an army of animal skeletons behind him; on the right, a terminal at Charles de Gaulle airport is home to evanescent human ghosts. The show is on view from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, to Friday, May 20, at the National Academy of Sciences, 2100 C St. NW. Free. (202) 334-2436. (Louis Jacobson)