Biomorphism

Biomorphism

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Encyclopedia
Biomorphism is an art movement that began in the 20th century. It patterns artistic design elements on naturally occurring patterns or shapes reminiscent of nature. Taken to its extreme it attempts to force naturally occurring shapes onto functional devices, often with mixed results.

History


The term was first used in 1936, by Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Biomorphist art focuses on the power of natural life and uses organic shapes, with shapeless and vaguely spherical hints of the forms of biology. Biomorphism has connections with Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

 and Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

.

The Tate Gallery
Tate Gallery
The Tate is an institution that houses the United Kingdom's national collection of British Art, and International Modern and Contemporary Art...

's online glossary article on biomorphic form specifies that while these forms are abstract, they "refer to, or evoke, living forms...". The article goes on to list Joan Miró
Joan Miró
Joan Miró i Ferrà was a Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona.Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride...

, Jean Arp
Jean Arp
Jean Arp / Hans Arp was a German-French, or Alsatian, sculptor, painter, poet and abstract artist in other media such as torn and pasted paper....

, Henry Moore
Henry Moore
Henry Spencer Moore OM CH FBA was an English sculptor and artist. He was best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures which are located around the world as public works of art....

, and Barbara Hepworth
Barbara Hepworth
Dame Barbara Hepworth DBE was an English sculptor. Her work exemplifies Modernism, and with such contemporaries as Ivon Hitchens, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Naum Gabo she helped to develop modern art in Britain.-Life and work:Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth was born on 10 January 1903 in Wakefield,...

 as examples of artists whose work epitomizes the use of biomorphic form. The paintings of Yves Tanguy
Yves Tanguy
Raymond Georges Yves Tanguy , known as Yves Tanguy, was a French surrealist painter.-Biography:Tanguy was born in Paris, France, the son of a retired navy captain. His parents were both of Breton origin...

 and Roberto Matta
Roberto Matta
Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren , better known as Roberto Matta, was one of Chile's best-known painters and a seminal figure in 20th century abstract expressionist and surrealist art....

 are also often cited as exemplifying the use of biomorphic form.

During and after World War II, Yves Tanguy's landscapes became more deserted and ridden of war, which has been seen as a psychological portrait of wartime Europe.

Surrealism elevated this magic and the transformational process of metamorphosis and hybridization. The use of metamorphosis through Picasso influenced Surrealism in the 1920s, and it appeared both as subject matter and as procedure in the figurative paintings of Leonora Carrington and in the more abstract, automatic works of André Masson.

Desmond Morris
Desmond Morris
Desmond John Morris, born 24 January 1928 in Purton, north Wiltshire, is a British zoologist and ethologist, as well as a popular anthropologist. He is also known as a painter, television presenter and popular author.-Life:...

 is a biomorphic painter of note and Marc Newson
Marc Newson
Marc Newson was born in Sydney, Australia. Now based in London, he is a successful industrial designer who works in aircraft design, product design, furniture design, jewellery, and clothing. He incorporates a design style known as biomorphism to his various designs...

 a designer of note.

In industrial design


Biomorphism is also seen in modern industrial design
Industrial design
Industrial design is the use of a combination of applied art and applied science to improve the aesthetics, ergonomics, and usability of a product, but it may also be used to improve the product's marketability and production...

, such as the work of Alvar Aalto
Alvar Aalto
Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto was a Finnish architect and designer. His work includes architecture, furniture, textiles and glassware...

, and Isamu Noguchi
Isamu Noguchi
was a prominent Japanese American artist and landscape architect whose artistic career spanned six decades, from the 1920s onward. Known for his sculpture and public works, Noguchi also designed stage sets for various Martha Graham productions, and several mass-produced lamps and furniture pieces,...

, whose Noguchi table
Noguchi table
The Noguchi table is a piece of modernist furniture first produced in the mid-20th century. Introduced by Herman Miller in 1947, it was designed in the United States by artist and industrial designer Isamu Noguchi...

is considered an icon of industrial design. Presently, the effect of the influence of nature is less obvious: instead of designed objects looking exactly like the natural form, they use only slight characteristics to remind us of nature.