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Photo by Jacqueline Genovese

Photo by Jacqueline Genovese

Medical students look at Robert Frank’s Car Accident — U.S. 66, Between Winslow and Flagstaff, Arizona at the Cantor Arts Center, with Sarah Naftalis (far right), a graduate student in art history.

Honing the art of observation, and observing art

A new medical school course brings students to the Cantor Arts Center and Anderson Collection to practice close observation of art, and then learn how to translate those skills to a clinical setting.

The scene: A group of medical students huddled around the iconic Robert Frank photograph, Car Accident — U.S. 66, Between Winslow and Flagstaff, Arizona, at Stanford’s Cantor Center for the Visual Arts.

Sarah Naftalis, who’s studying for a PhD in art history at Stanford, led the students through an exercise: She asked them what they saw as she gestured to the photograph, which shows four people standing in a field and looking at blanket that presumably covers a corpse, or corpses, on the ground. Several students noted the people, the odd lumpiness of the blanket and the reduced horizon.

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