It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ernst Haeckel and the Art Forms of Nature

(Ernst Haeckel, Kustformen der Natur, Tafel 8 - Desmonema)
Through the centuries the gap between science and art has been more or less deep. The German Ernst Haeckel was one of the rare Victoria scientists who tried to close this gap and he was able to change the way that many considered the relationship between art and science.
Ernst Haeckel (February 16, 1834 - August 9, 1919), a contemporary of Darwin, was a physician, anatomist, zoologist, naturalist, biologist and after all a natural history illustrator. Heackel created the terms: phylum, phylogeny and ecology.
Haeckel wrote several influential natural history books such as The History of Creation, Systematic Phylogeny, The Riddle of the Universe, Last Words on Evolution, and The Last Link
His first art book was published in 1862, Atlas of Radiolarias. Haeckel's illustrations influenced later art forms, including light fixtures, jewelry, furniture, and even a gateway to the Paris Word Fair in 1900. His natural history illustration culminated in the publication of Kunstformen der Natur (Artforms of Nature) in 1904. This book included 100 lithographic and autotype prints of a variety of organisms all of them masterpieces in composition and detail. He was influenced by Jugendstil (Art Nouveau movement in Austria and Germany) and his influence can be seen in the works of  Hans Christiansen, Karl Blossfeldt and Hendrik Petrus Berlage
Read more about Haeckel's life here (in Germain) or in English here.

(Ernst Haeckel, Kustformen der Natur, Tafel 62  - Nepenthes)

The Botanical Art and Illustration Certificate program will offer in the series of Drawing on Tradition a course focusing on the Art forms of Ernst Haeckel. The class starts on January 12 (1 - 4 p.m.) and is instructed by Marjorie Leggitt.

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