Ernst Haeckel: The Intersection of Art and Science


I used to feel like the worlds of science and art were a million miles apart. But then I happened across an amazing documentary called "Proteus". It tells the story of Ernst Haeckel, who was one of the pioneers of evolutionary theory and also a fine artist. His landmark book, Kunstformen von der Natur (Art Forms in Nature) organizes living organisms of all types by pattern and shape, not taxonomic classification. Haeckel found links between jellyfish, mold spores, snapping turtles and even a tiny single celled animal called the radiolarian. In the radiolarian, he discovered a universe of beautiful shapes and patterns that put the Alhambra to shame. The "Proteus" documentary contains eye boggling animation of the thousands of types of radiolaria that Haeckel identified and documented. It just might change the way you think about the world around you.

Here are digitized scans from a popular digest based on Artforms in Nature, along with links to a PDF of the entire book, as well as the Proteus DVD.

Ernst Haeckel's "Natural Artforms" at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive