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.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,