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Andreas Vesal’s Lasting Impact on the Art of the Danse Macabre

Alexander Lukas Bieri has been the curator of The Roche Historical Collection and Archive for twenty years. He is responsible for the in-house museums, collections and archives which include major assets on the history of pharmacy, medicine and art (and an anatomical collection). His publications include works on art and architectural history as well as on the history of science and business. He is currently chairman of the International Council on Archives’ Section on Business Archives and of the German Business Archivists Association’s Section on Archives of the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industry. Alex is also a member of ICOMOS Switzerland and in this capacity a specialist for 20th century interior design. Based on a rare find in one of Roche’s collections, he developed an interest in the danse macabre a long time ago. He found out that the art form of the danse macabre offers a fascinating insight into the artistic development of the depiction of humans. It also allows to highlight the transformative power Andreas Vesalius’ “De Humani Corporis Fabrica” had on art in its time and beyond. Furthermore, the history of the danse macabre makes changing societal attitudes towards death understandable.