Dissecting Eakins


Dissecting Eakins, 2020

Chromogenic print
73.03 X 48.9 cm
Artist collaboration with Andrew Savery-Whiteway
Credit: Max Dean / courtesy Stephen Bulger Gallery

Dean’s narrative about himself – his self portraiture – extends into areas that have lent agency to his art: not only does he incorporate the viewer as an integral component of his story but he also integrates artists and artworks that have been formative in his art making. His passion for artists as diverse as Jan Van Eyck, Titian, Thomas Eakins, Marcel Duchamp and Robert Irwin dates back to 1971 when he graduated from UBC with a degree in Art History. 

A tableau vivant-cum-self portrait, Dissecting Eakins is from the series Still- Living through Cancer and Covid. In this image the American painter, Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) who honed his knowledge of human anatomy by doing dissections, appears in the form of an animatronic figure, crouched at the height of Dean’s abdomen, preparing to make a surgical intervention into the artist’s belly in the region of Dean’s prostate. Eakins’ monumental paintings Gross Clinic 1875 and Agnew Clinic 1889 – a source of fascination for Dean for decades- acquired additional interest and became inspirational after his prostate cancer diagnosis.