When Henri Matisse was confined to his sickbed, he started cutting ‘curlicues of seaweed’, breaking new ground for a completely new artistic road. Why are film pioneers of the early twentieth century so fascinated by the movement of seaweed? Why does it smell so much, but is it, in spite of that, used for numerous beauty products? What does the arrival of Napoleon have to do with the disappearance of the kelp industry?
In an entertaining, poetic and astonishing cultural history of the most sensual family of water plants, Miek Zwamborn points out all of the hidden aspects of these elegant inhabitants of the sea. Algen depicts the splendour of the Japanese ink seaweed in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum archives and the azure seaweed photographs of photographer Anna Atkins, it shows how seaweed forgery let to the invention of copyright laws, and tells about the great promise of seaweed as a vegetable and as a fuel.
hardcover / full colour
German translation: Bettina Bach
Matthes & Seitz 2019
Algen will come out in April