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280 × 220 mm
304 pages pages
306 illustrations, 284 in colour
01 May 2019
Spring/Summer 2019
  • £35.00

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Cosmos The Art and Science of the Universe Roberta J. M. Olson, Jay M. Pasachoff

Since time immemorial, the nocturnal skies have mesmerized people, and heavenly bodies have inspired the imaginations of artists, poets and scientists. This book showcases the superstars of the firmament and universe in sumptuous illustrations, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolours and prints, as well as plates from books, celestial diagrams and astronomical photography.

Cosmos: The Art and Science of the Universe charts the human love affair with the heavens in art and astronomy, based on sound science and insightful art and cultural history. The book in ten lively chapters tells the fascinating story of the quest to discover the mysteries of the universe. Enriched with new research, interpretations and amusing anecdotes, the authors weave a rich tapestry about the interconnections in the cosmos and the efforts to understand them. This is a stunning book that unveils the beauty of the cosmos and its compelling story throughout the ages.

‘The night sky is the grandest feature of our environment. It has been shared by all humanity, throughout history, stimulating a sense of wonder and mystery. In this eloquent and beautifully illustrated book Olson and Pasachoff recount how the cosmos has inspired artists through the ages to create images that have become embedded in our culture.’ – Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal

‘“What could be more beautiful than the heavens,” Copernicus asked, “which contain all beautiful things?” Roberta Olson and Jay Pasachoff offer their exuberant, elaborate endorsement of Copernicus’ sentiment in this resplendently illustrated celebration of artworks inspired by starry nights, solar eclipses, and other celestial wonders.’ – Dava Sobel, author of Longitude, Galileo's Daughter, and The Glass Universe

‘Filled with awe upon completing Cosmos, I was amazed at the depth of documentation paired with pioneering content. What a remarkable feat of scholarship Olson and Pasachoff have achieved. Whether religiously motivated, scientifically oriented, or just curious, artists from all times have embraced and explored the origins of our universe. Creative higher mathematics is often geometric and therefore visual. This historic study investigates how artists have shaped their cosmic discoveries into provocative images, while it traces the complex search to understand the universe.’ – Dorothea Rockburne, artist

‘It should not be surprising that astronomical subjects pervade all manner of art through the ages, yet Cosmos amazes. Olson and Pasachoff’s well-researched and lavishly illustrated tome delightfully demonstrates that this iconography is beautifully represented in the arts throughout history.’ – Tom Baione, Harold Boeschenstein Library Director, American Museum of Natural History

‘Olson and Pasachoff scour the cosmos of the arts for images of the heavens and show not only what the universe is, but what it means in this marvel of a book. With one surprising variation on a theme after another, every page is a revelation of the visual impact of the sky.’ – E.C. Krupp, Director, Griffith Observatory

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Professors Olson and Pasachoff have been working together on the intersection of art and astronomy since the 1985-1986 passage of Halley’s Comet brought them together. They are joint authors of Fire in the Sky: Comets and Meteors, the Decisive Centuries, in British Art and Science (1998) and this book is the culmination of their decades of collaboration.

Roberta J. M. Olson is Curator of Drawings at the New-York Historical Society and Professor Emerita of Art History at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. She is the author of Fire and Ice: A History of Comets in Art (1988). Jay M. Pasachoff is Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Hopkins Observatory at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, and co-author of The Sun (Reaktion, 2017).