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Art Forms in Nature

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The geometric shapes and natural forms, captured with exceptional precision in Ernst Haeckel's prints, still influence artists and designers to this day. This volume highlights the research and findings of this natural scientist. Powerful modern microscopes have confirmed the accuracy of Haeckel's prints, which even in their day, became world famous. Haeckel's portfolio, f The geometric shapes and natural forms, captured with exceptional precision in Ernst Haeckel's prints, still influence artists and designers to this day. This volume highlights the research and findings of this natural scientist. Powerful modern microscopes have confirmed the accuracy of Haeckel's prints, which even in their day, became world famous. Haeckel's portfolio, first published between 1899 and 1904 in separate installments, is described in the opening essays. The plates illustrate Haeckel's fundamental monistic notion of the -unity of all living things- and the wide variety of forms are executed with utmost delicacy. Incipient microscopic organisms are juxtaposed with highly developed plants and animals. The pages, ordered according to geometric and -constructive- aspects, document the oness of the world in its most diversified forms. This collection of plates was not only well-received by scientists, but by artists and architects as well. Rene Binet, a pioneer of glass and iron constructions, Emile Galle, a renowned Art Nouveau designer, and the photographer Karl Blossfeld all make explicit reference to Haeckel in their work.


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The geometric shapes and natural forms, captured with exceptional precision in Ernst Haeckel's prints, still influence artists and designers to this day. This volume highlights the research and findings of this natural scientist. Powerful modern microscopes have confirmed the accuracy of Haeckel's prints, which even in their day, became world famous. Haeckel's portfolio, f The geometric shapes and natural forms, captured with exceptional precision in Ernst Haeckel's prints, still influence artists and designers to this day. This volume highlights the research and findings of this natural scientist. Powerful modern microscopes have confirmed the accuracy of Haeckel's prints, which even in their day, became world famous. Haeckel's portfolio, first published between 1899 and 1904 in separate installments, is described in the opening essays. The plates illustrate Haeckel's fundamental monistic notion of the -unity of all living things- and the wide variety of forms are executed with utmost delicacy. Incipient microscopic organisms are juxtaposed with highly developed plants and animals. The pages, ordered according to geometric and -constructive- aspects, document the oness of the world in its most diversified forms. This collection of plates was not only well-received by scientists, but by artists and architects as well. Rene Binet, a pioneer of glass and iron constructions, Emile Galle, a renowned Art Nouveau designer, and the photographer Karl Blossfeld all make explicit reference to Haeckel in their work.

30 review for Art Forms in Nature

  1. 5 out of 5

    Petra-masx

    Just once in a while, 5 stars aren't enough. This book is far more than amazing, it's stupendously, fantastically, magically wonderful (and that isn't hyperbole!) The book, as the introduction makes clear, is a work of scientific illustrations of primitive organisms. But the illustrations are other-worldly both in form and in the feeling they give: that rotifers, protozoans and medusae don't just inhabit scarcely-visible parts of our world, no they have their own world which we can barely glimps Just once in a while, 5 stars aren't enough. This book is far more than amazing, it's stupendously, fantastically, magically wonderful (and that isn't hyperbole!) The book, as the introduction makes clear, is a work of scientific illustrations of primitive organisms. But the illustrations are other-worldly both in form and in the feeling they give: that rotifers, protozoans and medusae don't just inhabit scarcely-visible parts of our world, no they have their own world which we can barely glimpse into, as different and exotic as any science-fiction artwork. These are disk jellyfish. Top right is Cassiopeia If I wasn't at all interested in science, I would still want to own this book. Indeed, until I was forced to sell it (a good offer was made and, after all I am a bookseller, I can't hang on to my favourite items forever and I managed a year with this one) it was hidden on my private shelf where I could look at it almost every day.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    Not so mind-blowing in these days of high-resolution microscopy, but still pretty amazing from a technical drawing viewpoint. And interesting aesthetically if you leaf through and the hydra and jellies and pinecones all sort of blur together as form rather than animals. This Dover edition does not reproduce the text.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Huda

    Lately, I have been indulging in scientific technical drawings more and more. I like the discipline in that long-forgotten way you feel when you're a hardcore fangirl screaming internally upon seeing something you like. It's that bad. This was really great, but most importantly it will last -- for archiving, referencing, modifications, not just a book that'll sit on the shelf once perused -- all made easy with access to these lithographs. P/S: Probably not as important, but I would have liked in Lately, I have been indulging in scientific technical drawings more and more. I like the discipline in that long-forgotten way you feel when you're a hardcore fangirl screaming internally upon seeing something you like. It's that bad. This was really great, but most importantly it will last -- for archiving, referencing, modifications, not just a book that'll sit on the shelf once perused -- all made easy with access to these lithographs. P/S: Probably not as important, but I would have liked individual lithographs to have been labelled. Drawings are lumped into classes on single pages, so you'll get for example: one page of various starfishes, but without identification of each one.

  4. 5 out of 5

    James

    I bet H.R. Giger has a copy of this book. Old drawings of microbes, animals and such in a very distinct style. The microbes and some of the sea creatures have an especially alien look to them. There's at least one free digital version and if you insist on a paper copy get something like the Prestel edition so you get the color plates.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    GORGEOUS :: cannot be beat. I heart Ernst Haeckel.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ariadna73

    Art forms in nature explores some of the most representative works of Ernst Haeckel. a painter/drawer/designer born in 1834 in Prussia. He dedicated his talent to faithfully reproduce some of the patterns he observed in nature; and looking to his works; one can only be amazed on how others that call themselves original just copied Mother Nature to create their designs (take for example the Fabergeés eggs; or the Sistine Chapel). As the prologue says; this book should be read not only with the ey Art forms in nature explores some of the most representative works of Ernst Haeckel. a painter/drawer/designer born in 1834 in Prussia. He dedicated his talent to faithfully reproduce some of the patterns he observed in nature; and looking to his works; one can only be amazed on how others that call themselves original just copied Mother Nature to create their designs (take for example the Fabergeés eggs; or the Sistine Chapel). As the prologue says; this book should be read not only with the eyes but also with the ears; because by looking at the artworks in sequence; one can almost hear the highly distinguishable accords of Ravel's Bolero. It starts in a shyly but magnificent manner and finishes with a climax of color and pleasure. There are some works based on corals that remind you immediately of the gene lamps of the oriental tales; the reproduction of the "ostracionte kafferfishe" is so majestic that it resembles some of the decorations in queens and kings crowns. There are some pictures of coral skeletons that instantly transport the reader to a somber world; and then there is an explosion of color and movement in plant and living coral. There is the "muscinae Laubnoose" that transports you to the dreamed trip through the rainforest. You can almost feel the embrace of nature while looking at it. This is a great book to look at in your living room with long time to absorb all that beauty.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

    Somehow this didn’t wow me as I’d expected. The material is interesting re art, science, nature, and philosophy. Haeckel the zoologist is just as interesting as Haeckel the artist. I thought I’d adore the prints, but while I enjoyed them, I didn’t love them. The text accompaniment, appearing early in the book before the many pages of prints, is interesting. I’m not sure why I didn’t feel amazed by this book. I do recommend it to artists, naturalists, scientists, and anyone interested in the natur Somehow this didn’t wow me as I’d expected. The material is interesting re art, science, nature, and philosophy. Haeckel the zoologist is just as interesting as Haeckel the artist. I thought I’d adore the prints, but while I enjoyed them, I didn’t love them. The text accompaniment, appearing early in the book before the many pages of prints, is interesting. I’m not sure why I didn’t feel amazed by this book. I do recommend it to artists, naturalists, scientists, and anyone interested in the natural world and in art. Maybe most would be more impressed than I was. There is a long queue of people who have this on reserve at the library, and the copy I have is almost due, so I can’t keep perusing it. I have to return it. I’m not quite interested enough in it to borrow it again and spend more time with it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    Gorgeous prints, as virtually everyone agrees, but the first of the two introductory essays really fell flat. The second essay was moderately interesting. Too bad someone like Andrea Wulf didn't write an intro. Her chapter on Haeckel in her recent book, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World, was what prompted me to buy Art Forms in Nature in the first place. Read this book for the "Reading Genres" book club "Eurobooks" meeting, for which I decided to concentrate on European Gorgeous prints, as virtually everyone agrees, but the first of the two introductory essays really fell flat. The second essay was moderately interesting. Too bad someone like Andrea Wulf didn't write an intro. Her chapter on Haeckel in her recent book, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World, was what prompted me to buy Art Forms in Nature in the first place. Read this book for the "Reading Genres" book club "Eurobooks" meeting, for which I decided to concentrate on European entomologists. I read five books, all told, for this meeting, which was undoubtedly overkill, but which I wholeheartedly enjoyed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nuno R.

    100 plates of beauty. Ernst Haeckel gave us something that we can, like Escher, forever look at. Escher inscribed them in Nature, giving birth to what he saw in his mind; Haeckel engraved what he saw in Nature.

  10. 5 out of 5

    tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE

    A. Maz. Ing. A. Stound. Ing. Do words fail me? I fail words. I wdn't rate this bk, it's invaluable - wch isn't to say w/o value. Haeckel is my new favorite artist. I 'discovered' him thanks to a documentary called "Proteus - A Nineteenth Century Vision" by David LeBrun. I loved the movie. If you check it out, make sure to also check out "The Making of PROTEUS" wch I, as a film & vaudeo maker, found particularly compelling. The amt of work that LeBrun was driven to in order to complete the movie A. Maz. Ing. A. Stound. Ing. Do words fail me? I fail words. I wdn't rate this bk, it's invaluable - wch isn't to say w/o value. Haeckel is my new favorite artist. I 'discovered' him thanks to a documentary called "Proteus - A Nineteenth Century Vision" by David LeBrun. I loved the movie. If you check it out, make sure to also check out "The Making of PROTEUS" wch I, as a film & vaudeo maker, found particularly compelling. The amt of work that LeBrun was driven to in order to complete the movie is IMPRESSIVE. & Haeckel's incredible energy, his drive for a thorough worldview, his meticulousness, is BEYOND IMPRESSIVE. This edition has introductory essays by Olaf Breidbach & Irendäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt. I liked them both. BUT, it was Eibl-Eibesfeldt's essay that really GRABBED ME. The background on research into our perceptual mechanism(s) & their relevance to Haeckel were fascinating, engrossing. Eibl-Eibesfeldt is obviously another man w/ a vision pursued w/ profound dedication. Eibl-Eibesfeldt quotes Haeckel at length: "Purely speculative metaphysics, which were further developed from theories of apriorism established by Kant and which found its most radical advocate in Hegel, ultimately led to the utter rejection of empiricism and claimed that all knowledge is in fact acquired through pure reason, independent of all experience. Kant's great mistake, which had such serious consequences for all of philosophy that followed, largely lies in the fact that his critical "Theory of Cognition" did not take into account physiological and phylogenetic principles which were only acquired sixty years after his death through Darwin's reform of the theory of evolution and through the discoveries of the physiology of the brain. He regarded the human soul with its inborn characteristics of reason as a ready-made being and did not inquire into its historical origins ... he did not consider that this soul could have developed phylogenetically from the most closely related mammals. However, the wonderful ability to make a priori judgements has arisen through the inheritance of cerebral structures, which the vertebrate ancestors of humans acquired slowly and in stages (through adaptation and synthetic association of a posteriori experiences and perceptions). Moreover, the firmly established perceptions of mathematics and physics, which Kant explained as synthetic a priori judgements, originated by means of the phyletic development of the faculty of judgement and may be traced back to continually recurring a posteriori experiences and conclusions based thereupon. The "necessity," which Kant ascribed to a particular characteristic of these a priori judgements were these phenomena and conditions fully known." Genius, pure genius. Alas, Eibl-Eibesfeldt goes on to develop his wonderful essay w/ this: "Is it not possible that the aesthetic sensibilities of people who have grown up in what many would find ugly, artificial environments of the industrial fringes of modern metropolises, have also been altered as a result of such new environments? If this were so, would it not explain, at least in part, the acceptance of assemblages made from found objects and other ignoble materials?" Oh well.. weren't Haeckel's radiolarian ALSO "found materials"? & "ugly" & "ignoble"? These terms reek too much of "decadent art" for me! Still, Eibl-Eibesfeldt's essay is fantastic. BUT THE ART!!!!! Haeckel's devotion is praiseworthy in the extreme by my standards. This man was not lazy. These drawings-turned-prints are DETAILED. DDDDDEEEEETTTTTAAAAAIIIIILLLLLEEEEEDDDDD!!!!! The centerpiece of plate 61, Phaeodaria, is an alchemist's latticework if I've ever seen one. a geodesic dome, an a priori grasping of biomorphic geometry. Or something. & plate 87? What's this perspective-receding Brion Gysin-like quasi-rectangle underneath it all? I don't care whether this man has been somewhat discredited by modern science - he's made an impression on me that once again demonstrates that the greatest minds are interspersed throughout time & aren't the flavor-of-the-month. STUDY THIS BK! STUDY EVERYTHING BY HAECKEL!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Izzy

    I had heard of Ernst Haeckel back in high school, his art is exceptionally captivating - so when I saw this book at the library, I didn’t hesitate on taking it home. He was a biologist who discover many different species, some relatively minuscule species - generally varieties of flora and fauna. Haeckel recognized beauty in every aspect of nature, even the ones who could be perceived as scary or insignificant. This book consists of one hundred highly intriguing illustrations of this beauty. I l I had heard of Ernst Haeckel back in high school, his art is exceptionally captivating - so when I saw this book at the library, I didn’t hesitate on taking it home. He was a biologist who discover many different species, some relatively minuscule species - generally varieties of flora and fauna. Haeckel recognized beauty in every aspect of nature, even the ones who could be perceived as scary or insignificant. This book consists of one hundred highly intriguing illustrations of this beauty. I loved it, it was a quick peruse, but utterly worth it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    LillyBooks

    I'd never heard of Ernst Haeckel until I read about Rorschach's inkblot tests (that is the great beauty of reading: books beget books). Haeckel was a 19th century biologist and illustrator who specialized in mapping and painting natural history in mathematical and symmetrical diagrams that are nothing less than stunning works of art. Both flora and fauna are plotted with precision and exactitude, and the result in breathtaking. Sublime.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I didn't read all the words, but I absolutely looked at all the pictures. That's what it's for, anyway. I felt like he rendered the natural world as something both amazingly beautiful and terrifying and I loved it. Totally want to have some of his work on my wall.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    At 70 years of age, Haeckel published this in 1904. So detailed, and so intriguing!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Beautiful is all I can say.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Clara Hauke

    This is my favorite book. It's so appealing visually and I can just guess how great the scientific value is as well.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Christine Echeverri

    This book was one of the most beautiful and inspirational books I have ever read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Deepti

    It's gorgeous. I got a black and white version and it's a little hard to make out all the different parts.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Craig Lawver

    Love this artist

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    A beautiful collection of black and white plates showcasing the ethereal works of Ernst Haeckel depicting organisms from nature in his work Kunstformen der Natur.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gillian

    The plates (pictures) are fascinating and beautiful, the two introductions not so much.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lorena

    Really great ideas but had to start skimming after two-thirds.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura Lawless

    A beautiful book! I loved it!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ixiana H.

    Love the illustrations in this book, so interesting!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Absolutely stunning. This was a library book, but I ended up buying myself a copy.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Haeckel's work can be summed up very simply, he is a scientist and he is an artist. His work is technical and gorgeous.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John

    "[A]ll things counter, original, spare, strange" by the philosophical 19th century German biologist.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Carl Ludwig Dorsch

    A selection of illustrations from Ernst Haeckel’s Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms of Nature) executed by Adolf Giltsch. Haeckel (1834 – 1919), German zoologist/naturalist and professor of comparative anatomy at the University of Jena, has been credited with introducing the terms phylum, phylogeny, and ecology (as well as, oddly, Darwinism and World War), but is now perhaps best known for his formulation "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny." The complete volume of Kunstformen der Natur was finall A selection of illustrations from Ernst Haeckel’s Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms of Nature) executed by Adolf Giltsch. Haeckel (1834 – 1919), German zoologist/naturalist and professor of comparative anatomy at the University of Jena, has been credited with introducing the terms phylum, phylogeny, and ecology (as well as, oddly, Darwinism and World War), but is now perhaps best known for his formulation "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny." The complete volume of Kunstformen der Natur was finally published in 1904. I believe this Dover reprint is an abridgement (with limited text) of a smaller 1924 edition. Remarkably, a full facsimile of Kunstformen der Natur, has been posted on the Flickr photo sharing site (which site gives a publication date of 1898, though others have it as being published 1899 – 1904). The Flickr site address for the Kunstformen index page is: http://www.flickr.com/photos/origomi/... Some recommended samples from the series: http://www.flickr.com/photos/origomi/... and http://www.flickr.com/photos/origomi/... Another collection (though with reproductions of somewhat lower quality) of the Kunstformen plates exists at: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Kun... From Haeckel's New York Times obituary, August 10, 1919: PROF. E.H. HAECKEL DIES IN GERMANY World Famous Exponent of the Theory of Evolution Was in His 86th Year. RESEARCH BEYOND DARWIN Author of "The Riddle of the Universe" Was Professor at Jena for Fifty Years. "JENA, Germany, Aug. 9. – Ernst Heinrich Haeckel, Professor of Zoology in the University of Jena for nearly fifty years, and famous throughout the world for his research work supporting the theory of evolution, died here today..." [...] "In his "World-Problems" he went much further than Darwin dared to go, and has given us a program of the world's origin which wholly eliminates all elements of design in the scheme of things, with a vigor almost unscientific in its harshness. He rejects the idea of personal immortality as ludicrous; and, as for a moral order in the world, it does not exist. But his books teem with passages in which mankind is urged to devote itself to the beautiful, the good and the true..." [...] "His religion was called "Monism," a term he invented to cover his belief in the essential unity of organic and inorganic matter. Some of these views he put in his most widely-read book, "The Riddle of the Universe." This had a tremendous sale all over the world..." http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-... And finally, some honorific taxa: Haeckelia Carus, 1863 (Ctenophora) Asteropus haeckeli Dendy, 1905 Leucetta haeckeliana Polejaeff, 1883 Pilochrota haeckeli Sollas, 1886 Margelopsis haeckeli Hartlaub, 1897 [Cnidaria: Hydrozoa] Pantachogon haeckeli Maas, 1893 [Cnidaria: Hydrozoa] Lucernaria haeckeli (Antipa, 1892) [Cnidaria: Scyphozoa] Protiara haeckeli Hargitt, 1902 [Cnidaria: Hydrozoa] Pseudorhiza haeckeli Haacke, 1884 [Cnidaria: Scyphozoa] Colobomatus haeckeli (Richiardi, 1877) Actinostephanus haeckeli Kwietniewski C. R., 1897

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stef

    "Read" is too strong of a word here -- I flipped through the pages, looking at the incredibly detailed art. Gorgeous and precise. Would like to return to this in the future for possible tattoo inspiration.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    Submerge yourself to the details of the drawings, they're really amazing. It's basically a feast for your eyes if you are into nature, art, or just curious. My book had certain plates where the colors misaligned and shifted (ie, color part is offset from the lines and went beyond the boulder) and created a poorer quality image overall :( I ended up liking the black and white images more than the colored ones. It was only a handful of plates that had this problem. One of the misalignment occurred Submerge yourself to the details of the drawings, they're really amazing. It's basically a feast for your eyes if you are into nature, art, or just curious. My book had certain plates where the colors misaligned and shifted (ie, color part is offset from the lines and went beyond the boulder) and created a poorer quality image overall :( I ended up liking the black and white images more than the colored ones. It was only a handful of plates that had this problem. One of the misalignment occurred in my book was the 8th print (Discomedusae), which was luckily the cover art, nonetheless I was a bit sad because this was one of the key pieces! Furthermore, I think the Internet had raised my expectation of the prints with vibrate colors, however the prints in my book were printed in duller color (in comparison). It doesn't spoil the joy in flipping through the pages, but it may be something to take note of if you are considering purchasing a hard copy. I purchased the 2008 edition, so I am not sure if the defects in my book is a batch problem, or an edition problem. If you are thinking about purchasing this book, having the product on-hand to check through would help. Despite with the defects in my book, it is still a good purchase and would do well as a gift or inspiration. My mother who was less detail-obsessed as I was had fun going through the plates.

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