ernst haeckel


History Illustration Science

Jean Baptiste Vérany’s Wildly Influential Cephalopod Chromolithographs Depict Sea Creatures in Stunning Opalescent Color

May 26, 2023

Grace Ebert

In 1851, French pharmacist-turned-naturalist Jean Baptiste Vérany (1800–1865) published a collection of illustrations that captured the subtle colors and tonal variances of cephalopods. A class of mollusks that includes squid, octopus, cuttlefish, and nautilus, cephalopods have pronounced, often bulbous heads, symmetric bodies, and arms and tentacles known to produce ink. The marine creatures became a source of fascination for Vérany after a research expedition with Franco Andrea Bonelli, a preeminent ornithologist and entomologist, who helped usher in the young naturalist's interest in zoology. Some of Vérany's most-recognized contributions to…

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Illustration Science

In ‘Wild Design,’ Vintage Illustrations Expose the Patterns and Shapes Behind All Life on Earth

January 5, 2022

Grace Ebert

Focusing on the patterns and shapes that structure the planet, a new book published by Princeton Architectural Press explores the science behind a trove of organically occurring forms. Wild Design: Nature's Architects by author Kimberly Ridley pairs dozens of vintage illustrations—spot the work of famed German biologist Ernst Haeckel (previously) among them—with essays detailing the function of the striking phenomena, from the smallest organisms to the…

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Art Craft Photography

Top of the Stack: Colossal’s Favorite Art Books of 2022

November 28, 2022


As we near the end of 2022, we're taking a look back at the year, starting with the books we found most compelling, impressive, and inspirational. We've published dozens of articles on artist monographs and compendiums of broader topics across art and design and science and history over the last 12 months, and these are the 10 titles that impacted us most. Head to Bookshop to browse all 25 books on our list, including the highly anticipated Hilma AF Klint Catalogue Raisonné, a glimpse into rarely-seen works by Ruth Asawa, and a dive into the history of protest art.   Ocean, Exploring…

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Art History Illustration Photography

A New Book Flies Through the Vast World of Birds from Art and Design to History and Ornithology

November 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

Bird: Exploring the Winged World is an extensive celebration of feathered creatures across thousands of years of art, science, and popular culture. Published by Phaidon, the stunning, 352-page volume compiles works from hundreds of artists, illustrators, photographers, and designers—including Lorna Simpson (previously), Nick Cave (previously), Ernst Haeckel (previously), and Florentijn Hofman (previously)—who choose ostriches, flamingos, and other avians as their central motifs. Each spread connects two distinct works from different…

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Art Craft

Amorphous Ceramic Vessels by Julie Bergeron Merge the Shapes and Textures of Organic Matter

August 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

From her studio in Paris, artist Julie Bergeron hand-builds amorphous stoneware vessels that mimic a wide array of creatures and lifeforms found in nature. Hollow ducts and pointed spines cover the surfaces of the cavernous forms, ambiguously evoking seed pods, tropical fruits like rambutan or durian, and small marine organisms. "I have fun mixing types, blurring the tracks... Are we in the vegetal, animal, microscopic, or human world? The borders become undefined," she tells Colossal. Inspired by the biological illustrations of Ernst Haeckel, Bergeron uses…

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A Collection of Paper Sculptures Studies the Wild Diversity of 88 Different Bat Species

April 12, 2022

Grace Ebert

Evoking the biological illustrations of Ernst Haeckel (previously) and photographic portraits of Merlin Tuttle, an ongoing project explores the incredible diversity of bats through geometric paper sculptures. Juan Nicolás Elizalde, who is half of the creative team behind the Buenos Aires-based studio Guardabosques (previously), began the series in 2019 after discovering variances in the animals' ear shapes, fur patterns, and other distinctive characteristics. He's since crafted 88 different species with scored and folded paper and is currently in the process of photographing each piece, from the wide-eyed flying fox…

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