Combining Science and the Art of Body Painting

When you think of body painting, we don’t blame you if the first word that comes to mind isn’t science. In fact, we don’t blame you if that word doesn’t appear until pretty far down the list, if it even appears at all. However, there are a few people that are looking to change how we view body art, and we think they just might. Here’s the scoop on how science is set to invade the art of body painting.

Victoria Gugenheim

Victoria Gugenheim is a body artist that’s well-known in the world of body painting. (She regularly finishes in the top three of any category she enters in the World Body Painting Festival.) However, thanks to her unique approach to body painting, Gugenheim is also starting to become a big name in the world of science.

Gugenheim regularly uses her body painting in order to explore or express scientific concepts. She names Richard Feynman as a major influence, Feynman being a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist known for both helping the United States develop the atomic bomb, and being an accomplished artist who produced sketches and portraits under the pseudonym Ofey.

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Gugenheim has completed famous body painting works inspired by the BRCA1 gene, the human impact on evolution, and the timeline of the universe. Gugenheim has also become a major player in the annual Ancestor’s Trail, a pilgrimage that combines hiking, art and evolution as an ode to Richard Dawkins and his book by the same name.


Danny Quirk

Danny Quirk is yet another accomplished master of the art of body painting that has made his name by so firmly entrenching his body art work in the world of science. While Victoria Gugenheim uses the human body as a canvas for scientific theories and ideas, Quirk seems to be more interested in turning the human body inside out. Much of his work showcases human anatomy, intensely-detailed replications of muscles, organs and skeletal structure, with some of his works even making it look as though the skin of his models have been peeled back to reveal their inner workings.

Quirk first found his passion for anatomical illustrations on Halloween, when his roommate enlisted him for help with a gruesomely realistic costume. He has certainly made a name for himself with his approach to body painting, so much so that the Smithsonian Magazine famously wondered if Quirk’s body art should be used to teach anatomy. Quirk himself, who is pursuing a career in biomedical illustration, is in favor of that idea and is currently trying to arrange guest speaking engagements at colleges. He is also currently in search of a bald head that he could illustrate.

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