Gross Clinic the music video


Over the weekend I went to the University of Pennsylvania’s freshman reading program event. For the first time in its 19-year history, the reading program selected a painting for the incoming students to read and talk about, and not any painting but Thomas Eakins’ The Gross Clinic, surely one of the most contentious American paintings of all times and a recent cause celebre having been rescued from its near-purchase to the Crystal Bridges museum in Benton, AK.  (We at Artblog heart this painting and were involved in the action to keep the work here–if you put Thomas Eakins or Gross Clinic in our search box, lots of posts will come up.)

Photo from Gross Clinic Music Video by Indoorfins.
Photo from Gross Clinic Music Video by Indoorfins.

Steve is a discussant at the small group sessions after the morning panel discussion and he invited me to come along and share what I knew about the painting and its recent history.

The best part of the panel, I must say, was the debut of the Gross Clinic music video by the Ohio band Indoorfins which refreshed the contentious spirit of the painting by its outrageous rhymes and visuals–and communicated a whole lot of information along the way. Watch video on YouTube.

The students in Steve’s breakout session were not too thrilled with the panel, yet the students — not an art major in the group of 20 (most were engineering, pre-med, finance and other subjects) — loved looking at the painting and learning about it. But get this, right now the Gross Clinic is being conserved (until April, Steve said) and so the students were looking at internet images, and, in the real world, at other Eakins images on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. That was a shame especially since one of the subjects we talked about was how could a painting give you something more than, say, a photograph. Like, brush strokes, dudes!

Congratulations to Penn for breaking new ground. They’ll probably go back to books forever and ever amen but it was a good attempt to explore what was clearly new territory — art — for these young students.


gross clinic music video, indoorfins, penn reading program, the gross clinic, thomas eakins



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