Marnix Everaert

posted by Erwin Keustermans / on October 15th, 2009 / in Science & Art

Many people are familiar with the dazzling plates of Haeckel’s “Kunstformen der Natur” ( Haeckel set a standard for further similar undertakings, and at the same time stood firmly in a long tradition of documenting the abundance of strange creatures in the natural world. From a spectator’s point of view, it was and still is not easy to know or to see which creatures are real and which are imaginary, for the layman to decide which details are observed and which are made up from stereotypes, preconceptions or simply for reasons of symmetry or convenience.

Marnix Everaert’s ( is a Belgian artist, a European expert on non-toxic printing techniques. His drawings remind the viewer of Haeckels pages.  Of course this is not the same encyclopaedic undertaking. There are differences of composition, for instance Everaert’s creatures are sometimes drawn on a common backdrop in a way that suggests that they share an imaginary space, while Haeckel’s items are often laid out on an empty page. Obviously Everaert is a contemporary artist and his style is looser than the standards that were set for 19th century illustrations, scientific or otherwise. Also, there seems to be more attention to structure than to detail, as if Everaert is taking elements from a repertory of geometric shapes that together constitute a generic type of creature. But for the viewer the question can be raised again: without more investigation or sound prior knowledge it is not possible to know what is real and what is imagined.