Science and the Artist's Book

An exhibition by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and the Washington Project for the Arts


Herald of Science

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James D. Watson and Francis H. C. Crick
"Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid"
in Nature, London, 1953

    The double helix structure of DNA is the source of the genetic code that determines the traits passed along from one living generation to the next. Watson and Crick's discovery of this structure--for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962-- was first published in two short articles in the British science journal Nature.

    Illustration reprinted with permission from Nature (171: 737-38). Copyright 1953, Macmillan Magazines Ltd; and with the permissions of James Watson and Francis Crick.

Artist's Book

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Julie Chen
Double Helix: An Essential Component of All Living Matter
Berkeley, California, 1994
[paper, colored pencil, wood, found map]

    Structure has always been a key element in the artist's books of Julie Chen. She was particularly intrigued by the challenge of designing a book that employed the spiral elements of the double helix. Chen's book is actually a two-volume set fastened together. Each volume represents a single strand of DNA.

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