Grown but not made

British Modernist sculpture and the New Biology

By Edward Juler

Grown but not made


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0653-7
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £19.99
  • Published Date: September 2016
  • BIC Category: Art History, Non-graphic art forms, History of art, SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Biology, ART / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945), ART / Sculpture & Installation, ART / History / General, The arts / History of art / art & design styles, Art & Design Styles: Modernist Design & Bauhaus


What does it mean for a sculpture to be described as 'organic' or a diagram of 'morphological forces'? These were questions that preoccupied Modernist sculptors and critics in Britain as they wrestled with the artistic implications of biological discovery during the 1930s. In this lucid and thought-provoking book, Edward Juler provides the first detailed critical history of British Modernist sculpture's interaction with modern biology. Discussing the significant influence of biologists and scientific philosophers such as D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Julian Huxley, J. S. Haldane and Alfred North Whitehead on interwar Modernist practice, this book provides radical new interpretations of the work of key British Modernist artists and critics, including Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Paul Nash and Herbert Read. Innovative and interdisciplinary, this pioneering book will appeal to students of art history and the history of science as well as anyone interested in the complex, interweaving histories of art and science in the twentieth century.


'This thought-provoking and original study reveals the ways in which scientific discussions in biology informed conceptions of sculptural form in 1930s Britain. It enables us to see the organic and nature-inspired configurations of modern sculpture with fresh eyes, as life forces played out in space and time. Analysing in detail the broader cultural context of the production of form in nature in this period, Juler provides close readings of key concepts in biological thinking and practice, such as morphology, embryology, organicism and microphotography, showing their crucial impact on artistic and cultural discourse.'
Julia Kelly, Loughborough University

'In Grown But Not Made: British Modernist Sculpture and the New Biology, Juler [.] truly captures the exciting cultural crosspollination at work in 1930s Great Britain, connecting, for example, the extraordinarily talented creator and editor of the avant-garde journal Axis Myfanwy Piper, Neo-Constructivism, and the biologistic mindset cultivated in H. G. Wells and Julian Huxley's collaboratively written book of 1938, The Science of Life-a nexus of forces which materialized in the beautiful garden suburb of London that is Hampstead [.] Juler's book is all about loving science, at least in the popular realm, and its coexistence and mixing with art during the 1930s. His is what Bloom called "a profound act of reading that is a kind of falling in love with a literary work.'
Charissa N. Terranova, Athenaeum Review, Issue 1 (Fall 2018)

'The sinuous organic forms in the sculpture of Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and others are often tied to vague conceptions of Biology; however, few have embarked on the subject with the level of scienti?c speci?city that Edward Juler does in his book Grown But Not Made [.] Through the author's con?dent explanations of the scienti?c factions at play - something of a rarity in art historical accounts of bio-centricity - he weaves a comprehensive picture of the biological foundations that underpin the conceptual frameworks of artists and critics in the interwar period.'
Rachel Stratton, Sculpture Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3 (2018)


1. Bridging the two cultures: relations between art and science in the 1930s
2. Metamorphosis
3. Organismal composition
4. The morphology of art
5. Worlds beneath the microscope


Edward Juler is Lecturer at Newcastle University

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