(Heavenly Monkey)

Mrs Delany Meets Herr Haeckel: Radiolaria, Tetracoralla, Pediastra, Ciliata, etc., Rendered in Paper Mosaicks.

Hodgson, Barbara and Claudia Cohen (illus.)

Vancouver, BC: Heavenly Monkey, 2015. Small octavo. 16, (6)pp., + 11 plates, + (4)pp. One of six A. P. copies. Signed by the contributors: Barbara Hodgson (author, illustrator, and designer), Rollin Milroy (printer), and Claudia Cohen (binder). An exploration, in theory and practice, of the intersection of art and science, Hodgson here imagines a meeting between Mary Delany (1700-1788) and Ernst Haeckel (1852-1911). Delany, a genteel Englishwoman, plied an impressive artistic vision of contemporary botanical albums, rendering plants and animals in collages of cut paper. Her devotion to realism gave her artwork scientific credence; she studied samples of specimens collected from around the world to create her artwork. Haeckel brought a similarly illustrative perspective to biology at a microscopic level. His delicate, animated drawings visualized newfound species—over the course of his life, Haeckel discovered thousands, including the kingdom of Protista—and solidified theories of evolution in artful and concrete contexts. Haeckel is himself problematic, espousing scientific racism and eugenics, but here his celebration of the near-invisible gathers textured and colorful ground. Hodgson here has used Delany's techniques to adapt images from two of Haeckel's books, recreating his eye for symmetry and accuracy in cut paper. Also after the fashion of Delany, papers were bought, traded, or scrounged from a variety of sources. Hodgson then cut them using scissors, an X-acto knife, and a Japanese screw punch, and mounted them on white, cream, or black paper. Their arrangements across the eleven plates owe nothing to scientic order, but instead follow guidelines of aesthetic balance. The cuttings themselves give impressive dimension and weight to species otherwise often nebulous; their layers and colors swim and stretch before the viewer's eye as if actually seen as they are, through a microscope. Additional cuttings adorn the text pages, from frontispiece to colophon. Bound by Claudia Cohen in what is attributed in this copy as Binding I: full black morocco with brown leather inlays to covers and maroon to spine, gilt rules, spine title, and ornaments to exterior and interior, and an upper cover design of an organism in gilt and leather. Marbled endpapers. Housed in clamshell box covered in orange cloth, with marbled paper edges and gilt-on-leather spine title. Very fine. Item #30561

Price: $6,500.00