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From The CriticsReviewer: David R. Calkins, MD, MPP (University of Kansas School of Medicine)
Description: As Senior Contributing Editor of the JAMA since 1974, the author has been responsible for the selection of art for the journal's cover. She also has written or supervised the writing of the accompanying essays. In this book, Dr. Southgate presents 100 covers and essays from issues of the journal published between December 1974 and December 1987.
Purpose: The primary purpose of this volume is to entertain and enlighten and it achieves this goal admirably. This work, and the decision to place art on the cover in the first place, has an additional purpose: to point out the similarities between art and medicine. As Dr. Southgate notes, artists and physicians must develop certain common skills, including observation and attention. Readers of this volume certainly will find their own powers of observation of art greatly enhanced as a result of the lessons provided in Dr. Southgate's essays.
Audience: This book is written for a wide audience, including physicians and nonphysicians. Although Dr. Southgate claims to be an amateur in the field of art appreciation, her essays suggest a high degree of knowledge and insight. The essays also reflect considerable research in art history and related disciplines. Even sophisticated students of art are likely to find something of interest here.
Features: The book has a large, coffeetable format. The covers are reproduced in their original size. Dr. Southgate has chosen works by European and American artists from medieval times to the present. Although the collection is quite eclectic, there are numerous works with medical themes: Fildes' "The Doctor," van Gogh's "Skull with Cigarette," Picasso's "Science and Charity," Eakins' "The Gross Clinic," and Munch's "The Sick Child." Dr. Southgate's essays are well written and informative. The book includes forewords by George D. Lundberg, Editor of JAMA, and William H. Gerdts, Professor, Program in Art History, City University of New York.
Assessment: This book will be a welcome addition to the library of anyone who enjoys art. Regular readers of JAMA are likely to gain a new appreciation for the covers and find themselves reading the essays in current issues with a bit more interest and regularity.