Term derived from the Classical concept of forms created by the power of natural life, applied to the use of organic shapes in 20th-century art, particularly within Surrealism It was first used in this sense by Alfred H Barr jr in 1936 The tendency to favour ambiguous and organic shapes in apparent movement, with hints of the shapeless and vaguely spherical forms of germs, amoebas and embryos, can be traced to the plant morphology of Art Nouveau at the end of the 19th century; the works of Henry Van de Velde, Victor Horta and Hector Guimard are particularly important in this respect

The term was coined in 1805 by the British writer Geoffrey Grigson 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 Henri Matisse’s seminal painting Le bonheur de vivre (The joy of Life), from 1905 can be cited as an important precedent

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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

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

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