Biomorphism is an art movement that began in the 20th century. It models artistic design elements on naturally occurring patterns or shapes reminiscent of nature. Taken to its extreme it attempts to force naturally occurring shapes onto functional devices, often with mixed results.
The term was coined in 1935 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. Matisse's seminal painting Le bonheur de vivre (The joy of Life), from 1905 can be cited as an important precedent.
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 epitomizes the use of biomorphic form.
In painting 
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. 
In architecture 
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.
See also 
- Grigson, Geoffrey (1935). The Arts Today. London: Bodley Head. pp. 71–109.
- Barr, Alfred H. (1936). Cubism and Abstract Art. New York: MoMA.
- Tate Collection, Glossary: Biomorphic www.tate.org.uk, accessed 25 July 2008.
- Surrealism and Beyond in the Israel Museum search subject "Biomorphism"
- Surrealism and Beyond in the Israel Museum "Biomorphism and Metamorphosis"
- Zerbst, Rainer (1988). Antoni Gaudi - A Life Devoted to Architecture. Trans. from German by Doris Jones and Jeremy Gaines. Hamburg, Germany: Taschen. p. 30. ISBN 3-8228-0074-0.
- Martin Eidelberg, et al. Design 1935-1965: what modern was: selections from the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection, Montreal: Musée des arts décoratifs de Montréal, New York: H.N. Abrams, 1991, Page 90.
- * Pina, Leslie (1998). Classic Herman Miller. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 0-7643-0471-2.