Inspired by the Charles Darwin bicentennial, The Art of Evolution presents a collection of essays by international scholars renowned for their groundbreaking work on Darwin. The Art of Evolution not only includes a discussion of the popular imagery that immediately followed the publication of On the Origin of Species, but it also traces the impact of Darwin's ideas on visual culture over time and throughout the Western world. The contributors analyze the visual expression of a broad range of Darwin-inspired subjects, including eugenics, aesthetics and sexual selection, monera and protoplasm theories, social Darwinism and colonialism, the Taylorized body, and the natural history of surrealism. The visual imagery responding to Darwin and Darwinism ranges from popular caricature to state propaganda to major trends within Modern Art and Modernism. This rarely addressed subject will enrich our understanding of Darwin's impact across disciplines and reveal how transformations in science were manifested visually in so many enticingly unexpected ways.
"This collection represents years of research by scholars in literature, photography, and art history, affirming Charles Darwin's profound influence in shaping visual culture [...] The work includes many illustrations and photographs, making perusing it an enjoyable experience [...] Recommended."
"The contributors shed important new light on Darwin's indebtedness to the visual dimensions of science and on the legacy of his work in visual terms for scientists, artists, and others."
– Victorian Studies
"The Art of Evolution, though directed mainly to historians of science and art, has something to teach social scientists and practicing artists. Darwin and the artistic productions his work inspired are fundamental elements of our intellectual inheritance. In every one of these chapters, authors connect domains that too many of us previously considered discrete. To that extent, this book enriches our understanding of visual phenomena. It also makes a significant contribution to the sociology of knowledge."
– Visual Studies
"The scope of this well-illustrated collection includes England, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark, the Soviet Union, and the United States (via the contemporary artist Allan McCollum)."
– Nineteenth-Century French Studies
"This wide-ranging and readable collection of essays addresses Darwin's presence in fresh ways. The writers demonstrate how artists transformed his theories into visual insights, how beauty and sex became central to his late writing, and how animals became newly visible and controversial. Provocative and scholarly, the essays mine unexpected materials and pursue stimulating arguments."
– Dame Gillian Beer
"A new salvo for the Darwin bicentennial, The Art of Evolution takes on the overlooked. Just when one thought everything had been said, this volume of essays creatively tackles Darwinism's largely unsung impact on the arts and popular media. Spanning explorations of Hardy's Tess, to the Ruskin debates, to the impact of sexual selection on fin-de-siècle art, through the Soviet Revolution, these musings are essential for anyone interested in Darwinism's broad cultural implications."
– Barbara Stafford, University of Chicago
- Introduction – Barbara Larson
- Darwin in Caricature: A Study in the Popularization and Dissemination of Evolutionary Theory – Janet Browne
- Ugly Disagreements: Darwin and Ruskin Discuss Sex and Beauty – Phillip Prodger
- From Monera to Man: Ernst Haeckel, Darwinismus, and Nineteenth-Century German Art – Marsha Morton
- Protoplasmania: Huxley, Haeckel, and the Vibratory Organism in Late Nineteenth-Century Science and Art – Robert Michael Brain
- Framing Darwin: A Portrait of Eugenics – Fae Brauer
- "One of a long row only": Sexual Selection and the Male Gaze in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D´Urbervilles – James Krasner
- Darwin's Sexual Selection and the Jealous Male in Fin-de-Siècle Art – Barbara Larson
- Wild Beasts and Tame Primates: "Le Douanier" Rousseau's Dream of Darwin's Evolution – Fae Brauer
- Imag(in)ing Post-Revolutionary Evolution: The Taylorized Proletarian, "Conditioning," and Soviet Darwinism in the 1920s – Pat Simpson
- Emotional Fusion with the Animal Kingdom: Notes Toward a Natural History of Surrealism – Gavin Parkinson
- Darwin on the Threshold of the Visible: Contemporary Art and Evolution – Sara Barnes and Andrew Patrizio
- About the Contributors
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Barbara Larson is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of West Florida. She is author of The Dark Side of Nature: Science, Society, and the Fantastic in the Work of Odilon Redon and Cain: Art and the Debates between Church and State in Early Third Republic France.
Fae Brauer is Professor of Art History and Theory at the University of New South Wales and Research Professor in Visual Theory at the University of East London. Her books include Corpus Delecti: Art, Sex and Eugenics and Modern Art's Centre: The Paris Salons and the French "Civilizing Mission".
- Sara Barnes
- Robert Michael Brain
- Fae Brauer
- Janet Browne
- James Krasner
- Barbara Larson
- Marsha Morton
- Gavin Parkinson
- Andrew Patrizio
- Phillip Prodger
- Pat Simpson