Botanical Speculations: Plants in Contemporary Art

Ground-breaking scientific research and new philosophical perspectives currently challenge our anthropocentric cultural assumptions of the vegetal world.

As humanity begins to grapple with the urgency imposed by climate change, reconsidering human/plant relationships becomes essential to grant a sustainable future on this planet. It is in this context that a multifaceted approach to plant-life can reveal the importance of ecological interconnectedness and lead to a more nuanced consideration of the variety of living organisms and ecosystems with which we share the planet.

In Botanical Speculations, researchers, artists, art historians, and activists collaboratively map the uncharted territories of new forms of botanical knowledge. This book emerges from a symposium held at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in September 2017, and capitalizes on contemporary art’s ability to productively unhinge scientific theories and certainties in order to help us reconsider unquestioned beliefs about this living world.

Giovanni Aloi is an art historian in modern and contemporary art, specializing in the representation of animals and plants in contemporary art. He currently teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sotheby’s Institute of Art New York and London, and Tate Galleries. He is the Editor in Chief of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture ( He is the author of Art and Animals (2011) and Speculative Taxidermy: Natural History, Animal Surfaces, and Art in the Anthropocene (2018), and the co-author of Why Look at Plants: The Vegetal World in Contemporary Art (2018). With Caroline Picard, he is the co-editor of the University of Minnesota Press series Art after Nature.

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ISBN: 1-5275-1365-3

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-1365-5

Release Date: 17th October 2018

Pages: 191

Price: £58.99


ISBN: 1-5275-7624-8

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-7624-7

Release Date: 5th November 2021

Pages: 191

Price: £25.99