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Rec Room: Elizabeth Onusko: Art Forms in Nature

November 11, 2009

beth_onusko-small.jpg Pattern and variation—these are what intrigue me about Philip Glass’s music, economics, and even cooking. And these are what draw me to Art Forms in Nature, a gorgeous book featuring one hundred prints by Ernst Haeckel, a German biologist. Haeckel sought to support Darwin’s theory of evolution by showing the public the complexity of microscopic organisms, which he painstakingly rendered in a series of illustrations and published in a volume in 1904.

I don’t so much read Art Forms in Nature as stare at its pages. The commentaries are interesting, but the illustrations themselves are spellbinding. The patterns that Haeckel gives us access to are astonishingly intricate and fluid. His work not only celebrates the virtuosity of nature, but perhaps more importantly, it is a testament to patience and to seeing—two things that anyone could stand to appreciate more deeply.

Bio: Elizabeth Onusko is managing editor of Guernica. Read her last recommendation “here”:

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