The Art of the Remarkable Ernst Haeckel

Art Forms in Nature

Original Title Page of
Art Forms in Nature
Born in 1834 in Potsdam, at that time Prussia, Ernst Haeckel initially trained as a physician, but his interests lay elsewhere, notably in shapes and patterns in Nature and their evolution. Art Forms in Nature was published as a series of 100 lithographs at the turn of the 1800s. These images are as powerful today as when they must have been when they astounded the public at the time of their first publication. Artists continue to draw upon these images to create jewellery, textiles and ceramics; also architects: Binet, and possibly Gaudi, have used them as inspirations for architectural design.

Monsters from the Deep

"What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams"
The quote is attributed to Werner Herzog although, a well-read American colleague - Malcolm Shick - suggests he may have taken it from John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts book in Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951): " Men really need sea monsters in their personal oceans. ... An ocean without its unnamed monsters would be like a completely dreamless sleep."

The Voyage of HMS Challenger

The First Space Exploration
Woodcut of the HMS Challenger
The British set up a major expedition to look for life in a part of space about which we were totally ignorant. No, this was not in the latter part of the 20th Century; it was 100 years earlier in the late 1800s, nor was it some distant planet; it was the 90% of Earth’s oceans which at that time lay unexplored and generally regarded to be devoid of life.

Science Inspires Art

Artist’s Fascination with Patterns in Nature and the Mathematical Beauty in Scientific Images.

Da Vinci's L'Uomo Vitruviano
Haeckel's image of Cystalia monogastrica
Many artists are accomplished naturalists in their own right. Likewise scientists have through history shown an admiration for the fluid beauty and almost complete freedom that art allows.