History of Art and Architecture

Constellations Consortium Featured in December Snapshot

Plate VII, Figure 1, “Anatomie”: A woody skeleton of sorts stands in the middle of a yellowed page; he is composed of branches and twigs, offshoots and tendrils and leaves. Even the casual observer can clearly see the bushy hair, the elongated head—with curved twigs for a nose—the arms, all five fingers clearly delineated, the sharp branch points suggesting ribs, and the long branches for legs.

Originally published in the Encyclopédie, ou, Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers in 1751, “Anatomie’s” whimsical portrayal of man was part of the Fall 2014 “Configuring Disciplines” show at Pitt’s University Art Gallery. The show addressed the theme of visual knowledge and explored how art works, maps, photos, botanical illustrations, diagrams, and more work to shape our notions of disciplinary knowledge in a variety of fields. Eight regional museums and archives contributed works to the exhibition, including Carnegie Mellon University’s Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, which lent “Anatomie.”

The show exemplified the “Constellations” approach of the Department of History of Art and Architecture at the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Starting in the 2011-12 school year, the department adopted Constellations, grouping faculty under six areas—Visual Knowledge, Agency, Identity, Environment, Mobility/Exchange, and Contemporaneity.

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