Biomorphism models artistic design elements on naturally occurring patterns or shapes reminiscent of nature and living organisms. Taken to its extreme it attempts to force naturally occurring shapes onto functional devices. The works of this trend have the aspect of life, they are endowed with plant, animal or human forms. Visually the often irregular curves and lines are omnipresent and mark the change; the previous abstract works being more rigid and orthogonal.
Biomorphism is a system of modeling in culture using biological images. The term biomorphism, like biomorphology, is an integral one. Biomorphology is the science of living forms and the structure of organisms, biomorphism is a method of figurative construction using biological forms. Biomorphology, like biomorphism “… contains, in addition to” bio “, another part, which is an independent word -” morphology “, inherent not only in the animal world, but also in the objective world, as well as a number of other phenomena”. The concept and term “morphology” were introduced into the scientific revolution by I. Goethe as a science of form. In biological research, the morphological approach is combined with the physiological one and is currently developing as a descriptive science.
Biomorphism is sometimes reflected in new architectural expressions such as neo-futurism, blob architecture or in the design based on combinations of nurbs: The Villa Nurbs [ archive ] is a clear illustration of this. Other aspects of biomorphism are found in the projects of architects such as Santiago Calatrava Valls, Zaha Hadid, Ephraim Henry Pavie.
Also, there is a tendency towards introspection and the delimitation of artistic trends, Biomorphism appears as a form of hybrid or imperfect abstraction. “Art is a fruit that grows in man, like a fruit on a plant or the child in his mother’s womb. But while the fruit of the plant takes autonomous forms and never looks like an aerostat or a chair in coat, the artificial fruit of man shows most of the time a ridiculous resemblance with the aspect of something else. Reason suggests to man that he is above nature, that he is the measure of all things. So man thinks he can engender against the laws of nature while he creates monsters. I love nature, but not its successors. Illusionist art is a successor to nature. »
Alfred Cort Haddon used the word “Biomorphic” or “biomorphic” for the first time in his work “Evolution in art” published in 1895. The term has long remained in an Anglo-American intellectual tradition. Its acceptance in France is slow for various reasons.
Within the context of modern art, the term was coined by the British writer Geoffrey Grigson in 1935 and subsequently used by Alfred H. Barr in the context of his 1936 exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art. 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 and Art Nouveau.
In the 1950s, a new scientific direction appeared – bionics, which combines the laws of cybernetics, biophysics, biochemistry, space biology (L. P. Kraismer, Yu. S. Lebedev, V. P. Sochivko and others) . In English and translated literature, the term biomimetics is more often used (E. Lerner, T. Muller). The slogan of the Dayton symposium, which gave rise to bionics as a science: “Living prototypes – the key to a new technology.” E. N. Lazarev proposed combining bionics, biomorphology and biomechanics on the basis of common objects and similar tasks in bionomics – the science of a systematic study of the principles of structural-functional organization for use in practical activities. Biophysicists Yu. A. Vladimirov, A. I. Deev, A. Ya. Potapenko, D. I. Roshchupkin understand bionomics as a science whose task is to control their body to slow its aging.
At the end of the twentieth century, with the development of interest in fractality, another term appears – a biomorph proposed by C. Pickover to refer to specially constructed algebraic fractals that look like unicellular organisms. At the same time, the term “biomorphism” is increasingly used in popular science literature. It began to be repeated incredibly often in contemporary art publications, but it was still not formulated anywhere as a cultural phenomenon or as an element of a figurative modeling system.
The Tate Gallery’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, Jean Arp, Henry Moore, and Barbara Hepworth as examples of artists whose work epitomises the use of biomorphic form.
Thus, in the twentieth century, several new sciences and a new style arose, which are based on modeling using biological images.
As a component of biomorphism, biomorphic structures are considered. The term “biomorphic structures” is commonly used in mineralogy. However, there are many examples in the history of fine art and architecture when a spatial object is made on the basis of intuitively generalized biomorphic structures.
In July 2015 a Facebook Group was set up by British artist Andrew Charles. The group morphed into a movement over the following year and was described in a Manifesto by Charles on 16 July 2016, breaking down the Sculptural Genrea into specific patterns of creation forming no less than 8 necessary protocols for a work to conform to the term biomorphism.
The paintings of Yves Tanguy and Roberto Matta are also often cited as exemplifying the use of biomorphic form. During and after World War II, Yves Tanguy’s landscapes became emptier, which has been seen as a psychological portrait of wartime Europe.
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, author of “The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal”, is a biomorphic painter whose works are in museum collections, including the National Portrait Gallery in Great Britain.
American artists Andrew Topolski, Michael Zansky, Suzanne Anker, Frank Gillette, Michael Rees, and Bradley Rubenstein participated in exhibitions featuring biomorphic and biospheric paintings and digital art at Universal Concepts Unlimited (2000-2006). Michael Zansky’s series, “Giants and Dwarves,” spanned 5,000 square feet of carved, burned, and painted wooden panels with biomorphic forms.
The Sagrada Família church by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona contains many features inspired by nature, such as branching columns intended to reflect trees.
Other well known examples of biomorphism in architecture can be found in the Lotus Temple in New Delhi, by Fariborz Sahba, based on a lotus flower, and the TWA Flight Center building in New York City, by Eero Saarinen, inspired by the form of a bird’s wing.
One of the leading contemporary architects that uses biomorphism in his work is Basil Al Bayati, a leading proponent of the school of Metaphoric architecture whose designs have been inspired by trees and plants, snails, whales and insects such as the Palm Mosque at the King Saud University in Riyadh, or the Al-Nakhlah Palm Telecommunications Tower, which are based upon the form of a palm tree, or the Oriental Village by the Sea, in the Dominican Republic that is based upon the segmented body of a dragonfly.
In industrial design
Biomorphism is also seen in modern industrial design, such as the work of Alvar Aalto, and Isamu Noguchi, whose Noguchi table 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.
Victor Papanek (1923–1999) was one of the first American industrial designers to use biomorphic analysis is his design assignments. He reached international prominence while at Purdue University 1964–1970. Student work and his own work is illustrated in his book Design for the Real World, published in 1970, which challenges the industrial design establishment to design for the handicapped and disadvantaged throughout the world. First published in 1970 by Bonnier in Swedish, it was published in English in 1971 by Pantheon, and eventually translated and published in 23 languages. It is perhaps the most widely read book on design.
Gaetano Pesce is an Italian designer who creates brightly colored acrylic furniture in biomorphic and human shapes.
Marc Newson is an Australian biomorphic designer who created a Charlotte chair (1987) and three-legged carbon-fibre Black Hole table (1988).