Botanica Magnifica: Portraits of the World's Most Beautiful and Rare Flowers and Plants
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Botanica Magnifica: Portraits of the World's Most Beautiful and Rare Flowers and Plants

by Jonathan Singer, W. John Kress, Marc Hachadourian
     
 

Botanica Magnifica features 250 stunning photographs of rare and exotic plants and flowers by Hasselblad Laureate Award winner Jonathan Singer.

Botanica Magnifica features 250 stunning photographs representing—in the words of an ARTnews critic—rare or exotic plants and flowers “in large scale and exquisite detail,

Overview

Botanica Magnifica features 250 stunning photographs of rare and exotic plants and flowers by Hasselblad Laureate Award winner Jonathan Singer.

Botanica Magnifica features 250 stunning photographs representing—in the words of an ARTnews critic—rare or exotic plants and flowers “in large scale and exquisite detail, emerging from the shadows in a manner evocative of Old Master paintings.”

The original edition of Botanica Magnifica, consisting of five lavishly hand-bound volumes, was limited to just ten copies, the first of which was recently donated to the Smithsonian Institution. The extra-large “double-elephant” format of that edition was chosen in homage to the famous double-elephant folio of The Birds of America, and indeed, Botanica Magnifica is one of the few works of natural history ever to rival Audubon’s magnum opus in its scope and artistry. In praise of the double-elephant folio of Botanica Magnifica, the Smithsonian’s Chairman of Botany attested, “Everyone who has seen the photographs…has been tremendously impressed with the power, scale, and depth of the work.”

Now Singer’s remarkable images are available to the public for the first time in this hardcover with slipcase, baby-elephant folio of Botanica Magnifica. This volume is organized into five alphabetically arranged sections, each introduced by a gatefold page that displays one extraordinary plant at a luxurious size. Each pictured plant is accompanied by a clear and accessible description of its botany, geography, folklore, history, and conservation.

Botanica Magnifica is one of the most impressive volumes of natural history ever published.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Botanica Magnifica:

"This has to be, hands down, the most gorgeous book of the year." — ARTnews

"Goes way beyond typical nature photography to reveal not just the shape and substance of these living things but also their essence." — O, the Oprah Magazine

"Art aficionados marvel at their painterly quality, and botanists are in awe of how Singer manages to capture them so true to form." — Smithsonian Magazine

"You've never seen still-lifes of flora this crisp and hyper-real before. Photographer Jonathan Singer uses cutting edge digital techniques to reveal delicate structures of plant life to often jaw-dropping effect." — Elle Magazine

"A podiatrist photographs some of the world’s most endangered flowers with remarkable precision and artistry, hoping to raise the plants’ profiles before it’s too late." — Audubon Magazine

"…It's [Singer's] flowers, in Botanica Magnifica, that have caused quite a stir. Art aficionados marvel at their painterly quality, and botanists are in awe of how Singer manages to capture them so true to form…" — Smithsonian(dot)com

"A greenhouse between two covers." — Reader's Digest

"Botanica Magnifica is truly one of the most amazing natural history publications that has ever appeared…" — Zoom Magazine

"As rare and sublime as the marvels surveyed within its broad covers, Singer has produced a work to rest alongside some of the great botanical codexes in history, one for connoisseurs of the still-life, natural phenomena, and the photographic art." — Library Journal

"This single and singular volume…offers profound delight…Together the artist and the scientist observe and create diverse and new forms with these images." — Bloomsbury Review

"This impressive book should capture the imagination of naturalists and artists as well as the general public." — Choice

Library Journal
Through its size and luxuriant photographs by Hasselblad Laureate Award winner Singer, this publication exalts the beauty and intricacy of plant life in a way unmatched in generations. Singer's ambitious project is a fulfillment of a desire to carry on the centuries-old tradition of botanical illustration while compelling increased awareness of habitat destruction—in his words "to provide the art that will help the science understand the urgency to conserve the world's biodiversity." Each of the over 250 digital images depicts a single species centered over a coal-black ground. The eye focuses on the plant, its unique character precisely accentuated. The photos are composed with such care, the colors so rich, that it is easy to forget that these are not animate beings imbued with real personalities. Singer organizes the images into five thematic sections in which dozens of plants are carefully arranged with brief technical descriptions by Kress (National Museum of Natural History at Smithsonian Inst. Libs.) and Hachadourian (New York Botanical Garden) appended. VERDICT As rare and sublime as the marvels surveyed within its broad covers, Singer has produced a work to rest alongside some of the great botanical codexes in history, one for connoisseurs of the still-life, natural phenomena, and the photographic art.—Douglas F. Smith, Berkeley P.L., CA\

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780789210333
Publisher:
Abbeville Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/29/2009
Pages:
356
Product dimensions:
12.60(w) x 15.70(h) x 1.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Botanica Magnifica

Portraits of the World's Most Extraordinary Flowers and Plants


By Jonathan Singer, W. John Kress, Marc Hachadourian

Abbeville Press

Copyright © 2009 Jonathan Singer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7892-1033-3


Excerpt from Botanica Magnifica:

PREFACE

What will be the role of the photographic artist in the natural sciences for the rest of the twenty-first century? Is it possible for an artist’s vision to complement scientific exploration? With every leap forward of technology and exploration, I have observed that the boundaries of science and art intersect. While it is the role of science to quantify and verify the new frontier, it is the artist who leads us into the unknown, illuminating nature from the shadows and revealing its wonders.

From the first cave artists who documented scenes of the hunt to the painters and photographers who accompanied the opening of the American West, it has often been the artist who embraces new technology, bringing to light the never-before seen. Innovative American artists specializing in the natural sciences have included John James Audubon, George Catlin, and Ansel Adams. It is my hope that Botanica Magnifica will also contribute to a deeper understanding of nature, as the works of these artists did in their time.

What makes my botanical photographs so different? With my photographs I try to transcend the medium and see the subject itself. My aim is to make the viewer forget he or she is looking at a photograph and begin a deeper journey into the botanical world. Just as some painters attempt to make their brushstrokes (hence their presence) invisible, I attempt to photograph my subjects with clarity and humility. The resulting images seem to strike an inner chord and resonate with unexpected emotion.

The limited, original edition of Botanica Magnifica, consisting of five hand-bound volumes, was donated to the Smithsonian Institution. The extra-large “double-elephant” format of that edition was chosen in homage to the famous double-elephant folio of Audubon’s Birds of America, and indeed, Botanica Magnifica is one of the few works of natural history ever to rival Audubon’s magnum opus in its scope and artistry. Thus, Botanica Magnifica is at home both on the walls of art museums and shelved with reference books in scientific libraries for generations to come—hence the fusion of art and science.

I have had the privilege of working with two accomplished botanists—W. John Kress from the Smithsonian Institution and Marc Hachadourian at the New York Botanical Garden—without whose help Botanica would not have been started. They provide the scientific and anecdotal accounts of the unusual plants and flowers presented in these pages.

Dr. Kress has explored the world’s rain forests and has seen their destruction. That ongoing annihilation of these precious resources is why we have chosen to marry art with science in a unique way that compels us all to look again at our global ecosystems before there is nothing more to see. Maybe because of my images, people will rally to take action against the destruction of habitats. The question is how. I believe the answer lies with the great scientific institutions of the world coming together. With my efforts in both Botanica Magnifica and Tulipae Hortorum (residing in the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm), it is my aim to provide the art that will help the science understand the urgency to conserve the world’s biodiversity. That is my life’s mission.

Jonathan M. Singer

(Continues...)

Excerpted from Botanica Magnifica by Jonathan Singer, W. John Kress, Marc Hachadourian. Copyright © 2009 Jonathan Singer. Excerpted by permission of Abbeville Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jonathan Singer’s double-elephant folio of Botanica Magnifica is kept in the Cullman Rare Book Room at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Dr. Singer was named a Hasselblad Laureate Award winner (2008) and Carl Linnaeus Silver Medalist from the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences (2009) based on his contribution marrying art with science, and to “our perception and appreciation of the botanical world.” His many achievements include his appointment as Research Collaborator, Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

W. John Kress is a Curator of Botany and Research Scientist at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution. He is the author of Abbeville’s The Weeping Goldsmith: Discoveries in the Secret Land of Myanmar and has written many articles on botany.

Marc Hachadourian is the Acting Manager of the Nolen Greenhouses for the New York Botanical Garden. He specializes in orchids, aquatics, bulbs, and alpines and is particularly interested in public awareness of global plant conservation and the appreciation of plant biodiversity.

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