Nearly 20 years ago, an exhibit of X-ray photography of delicate flowers at the Museum of Science reminded Christoph Wald, MD of the power X-ray has in revealing the world around us in addition to revealing what’s inside the body.
Wald, now chairman of Radiology at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, (LHMC) first viewed the X-ray art of George Taylor, MD at Boston Children’s Hospital and in this subsequent exhibit. “This work brought to light the delicate and fascinating internal detail of inanimate objects such as flowers by combining photography with Konrad Roentgen’s X-rays — which had been discovered some 100 years earlier,” Wald said.
Fascinated with the concept, Wald filed it away until a day in 2007 when he asked his neighbor, well-known French Canadian Artist Norman Laliberte, if the same approach might be used to reveal the inner workings of Laliberte’s intricate sculptures and other works of art. “I proposed an examination of the internal architecture of his artistry through the lens of the X-ray eye,” Wald said.
Working together one quiet weekend 12 years ago, the radiologist performed imaging studies on Laliberte’s art. “For the first time in his life, Norman was exposed to the “tools” of current digital healthcare imaging technology: workstations, advanced visualization software, and the infinite possibilities of modern age digital imaging.“ He saw first hand how modern day radiology can depict the complex human anatomy in the living patient to great detail.
“We took some full color mixed material works of art and X-rayed them and afterward I had the new resulting black and white radiographic images printed on silver paper and metal sheets. I was so taken by the resulting purity of the image…it was as if you could see inside the painting, right to its essence,” Laliberte said.
Shortly after his visit to Lahey, Laliberte was in Paris and came across a beautiful antique anatomy entitled “Atlas d’Anatomy Humaine de Chirurgie.”
“This giant volume cried out to be brought back to Boston to be reinvented in a continuation of the exploration that had its spark at Lahey,” the artist said. “Thus began this series before you. I was consumed by the whole concept of what meets the eye and what is being that which is our first impression.”
Laliberte and Wald shared the genesis of the art at a special radiology grand rounds held on May 31 at LHMC.
The Anatomy Series is composed of 11 canvasses created with the medium of oil sticks on board, with the anatomy book cut up and decoupage superimposed on the artwork. Images include colorful objects such as flowers and vases, and animals such as birds. If one looks closely one can see anatomical parts woven into the artwork. The canvasses were reproduced with giclee technique and are now on display in the back hall of Radiology, 2 Central at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. Often, groups of employees and visitors from all walks of life find themselves exploring these evocative works of art.
“Twelve years after their initial creation, the artist kindly gave Lahey Radiology permission to reproduce this series as a special addition to its Healing Art Program. This is the first — and to date only — public showing of these works,” Wald said.