Anatomy of a Heart and Dildo


Colored pencil, watercolor and ink on paper,

48” x 60”

In 1751 William Hogarth published a series of four printed engravings he entitled “The Four Stages of Cruelty.” The fourth engraving, reproduced below, depicts surgeons mutilating the body of a murderer in an anatomical theatre, a scene more than once portrayed by artists who played a critical role in documenting anatomical findings during dissections. Hogarth added the famished dog in the foreground eating entrails of the corpse as part of his morality tale, completing the circle from his first engraving in which the dog was being tortured by young boys, one of whom grew up to be the murderer who was then hung and mutilated in turn.

In “Anatomy of a Heart and Dildo” I have borrowed Hogarth’s anatomical theater for my own less solemn, contemporary dissection of a heart and dildo. An overfed pug replaces the famished hound, and a Java log is poised to ignite under the bones table, but otherwise the piece can be construed as metaphorically or as literally as the viewer chooses.