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Macabre display

Anatomic artist Gunther von Hagens has staged exhibitions around the world featuring his macabre collection of preserved human bodies that have been stripped down to flesh and bone and placed in a range of poses. Photo: EuroPics
Anatomic artist Gunther von Hagens has staged exhibitions around the world featuring his macabre collection of preserved human bodies that have been stripped down to flesh and bone and placed in a range of poses. Photo: EuroPics

Anatomic artist Gunther von Hagens has often been described as ghoulish and gruesome.

The German has staged exhibitions around the world featuring his macabre collection of preserved human bodies that have been stripped down to flesh and bone and placed in a range of poses.

And he never lacks for bodies donated to be used in his macabre shows.

Von Hagens has pioneered a technique of preservation he calls plastination which can preserve an entire body rather than individual organs and tissues.

His work has been seen in the James Bond film Casino Royale where two corpses are set in a pose playing poker.

And in live shows he has performed gruesome autopsies on his plastinated bodies - usually while wearing his signature black fedora hat.

But recently German officials have banned a live show being performed in Berlin on grounds that it breached laws protecting the dignity of the dead.

Von Hagens had already been running the anatomic theatre for a week before being closed down and now he is suing.

He shrugs off objections to his show saying: "Such demonstrations are nothing new, they took place in medieval times at public places.

"But these days, only medical students can see these things. I enable everyone to see it.

"There is no better way to explain the human body."


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