Plant: Ex­plor­ing the Botan­i­cal World by PHAIDON ED­I­TORS

Cosmos - - Spectrum - — AN­DREW MASTER­SON

RRP $79.95 Phaidon (2018)

IF YOU LIKED Botan­icum, the re­cent cof­fee-ta­ble book cu­rated by Katie Scott and Kathy Wil­lis (Five Mile Press) you’ll love Plant, a hefty and vis­ually be­witch­ing col­lec­tion of botan­i­cal il­lus­tra­tion across the cen­turies.

Hooked on a chronol­ogy of plant science from 9500 BCE to the present, the book brings to­gether sketches by Charles Dar­win, me­dieval illuminations and elec­tron mi­cro­graphs. The works of il­lus­tra­tors such as Fer­di­nand Bauer, Pan­dora Sel­lars, and Mar­garet Mee jos­tle with plant­based pic­tures from fa­mous artists in­clud­ing Bras­saï, Yayoi Kusama, Robert Map­plethorpe, Ge­or­gia O’ke­effe and Irv­ing Penn.

The text is full of en­ter­tain­ing yarns cen­tred on the in­ter­sec­tion of botany and cul­ture – the fif­teenth cen­tury eco­nomic mad­ness known as tulip­ma­nia, for in­stance, or the rev­e­la­tion that thale cress is the first plant species to un­dergo its en­tire life cy­cle in space.

A de­light from start to fin­ish, the book is one of a trio from the pub­lish­ers, the oth­ers be­ing Uni­verse: Ex­plor­ing the Astro­nom­i­cal World, and Map: Ex­plor­ing the World.

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