Michael Prodger

Brushes with Mortality

The Healing Presence of Art: A History of Western Art in Hospitals


Yale University Press 460pp £50 order from our bookshop

‘Hospital art’ is a phrase to chill the soul. It brings to mind endless lino-floored corridors decorated with determinedly cheery images of fishing ports and landscapes, mimsy animals and bright abstracts, all designed to raise the spirits of the shuffling patients and visitors as they go about the grim routines of illness and wait to contract a dose of MRSA. Hospitals, however, have a long and noble history of commissioning art whose concern was rather more complex than simply cheering the mood of its viewers.

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