Joanna Ebenstein

Joanna Ebenstein is a Brooklyn-based artist, writer, curator, photographer, and graphic designer. She is the creator of the Morbid Anatomy blog, library, and event series and cofounded the now-shuttered Morbid Anatomy Museum.

  • Frederik Ruysch and His Thesaurus Anatomicus

    A Morbid Guide

    Joanna Ebenstein

    A lavishly illustrated guide to the magnum opus of the great seventeenth-century anatomist, master embalmer, artist, and collector of specimens.

    Frederik Ruysch (1638–1731) was a celebrated Dutch anatomist, master embalmer, and museologist. He is best remembered today for strange tableaux, crafted from fetal skeletons and other human remains, that flicker provocatively at the edges of science, art, and memento mori. Ruysch exhibited these pieces, along with hundreds of other artful specimens, in his home museum and catalogued them in his lavishly illustrated Thesaurus Anatomicus. This book offers the first English translation of Ruysch's guide to his collection, along with all the illustrations from the original volume, photographs of some his most imaginative extant specimens, and more.

    Ruysch was at once a brilliant scientist, a preternaturally gifted technician, an esteemed physician, a religious moralizer, and an artist whose prime form of expression was the medium of human remains. His works were sometimes described as “Rembrandts of anatomical preparation”; today they seem so strange that we can hardly believe that they even existed, much less that they were so popular in their time. His combination of the religious and the scientific, the painstakingly accurate and the extravagantly fantastical, offers vivid testimony of an era in which science overlapped seamlessly with religion and art. Essays accompanying Ruysch's text and images consider such topics as the historical context of Ruysch's work, the paradox of an artist of death whose work engenders the illusion of life, the conservation of Ruysch's specimens, and the shifting ascendancies of romanticism and rationality in the natural sciences.

    Contributors

    Stephen Asma, Philippe Comar, Eleanor Crook, Laurens de Rooy, Joanna Ebenstein, Richard Faulk, Luuc Kooijmans, Willem J. Mulder, Bert van de Roemer

    • Hardcover $34.95
  • Cabarets of Death

    Cabarets of Death

    Death, Dance and Dining in Early Twentieth-Century Paris

    Mel Gordon and Joanna Ebenstein

    Three idiosyncratically macabre cabaret-restaurants in Monmartre, each with its own grotesque portrayal of the afterworlds of Hell, Heaven, and Nothingness.

    From 1892 until 1954, three cabaret-restaurants in the Montmartre district of Paris captivated tourists with their grotesque portrayals of death in the afterworlds of Hell, Heaven, and Nothingness. Each had specialized cuisines and morbid visual displays with flashes of nudity and shocking optical illusions. These cabarets were considered the most curious and widely featured amusements in the city. Entrepreneurs even hawked graphic postcards of their ironic spectacles and otherworldly interiors.

    Cabarets of Death documents the dinner shows, the character interactions with guests, and the theatrical goings-on in these unique establishments. Presenting original images and drawings from contemporary journals, postcards, tourist brochures, and menus, Mel Gordon leads a tour of these idiosyncratically macabre institutions, and grants us unique access to a form of popular spectacle now gone.

    • Paperback $24.95