Artist Mark Dion presents a curated selection of photographs from the photo archive of the American Museum of Natural History Library, all of which relate to the fabrication of the Museum’s legendary dioramas. The subject matter—and its presentation in the issue—beautifully reflects Dion’s longstanding fascination with scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects.
Mark Dion was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1961, and received a B.F.A. (1986) and an honorary doctorate (2003) from the University of Hartford School of Art, Connecticut. Dion creates works that question the distinctions between objective scientific methods and subjective influences. The artist’s often fantastical curiosity cabinets, modeled on Wunderkabinetts of the 16th century, exalt atypical orderings of objects and specimens. Dion has received numerous awards, including the ninth annual Larry Aldrich Foundation Award (2001); the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2005); and the Lucelia Award, Smithsonian Museum of American Art (2008). He has had major solo exhibitions at the Miami Art Museum (2006); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2004); the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut (2003); and the Tate Gallery, London (1999). Dion has been featured in the PBS series Art:21 and has published six books, including Archaeology (Black Dog Publishing, 1999), The Natural History of the Museum (Archibooks, 2007), and Oceanomania (Mack, 2011). His work has also been the subject of numerous other publications, including Mark Dion: Contemporary Artist (Phaidon Press, 1997), Mark Dion: Concerning Hunting (Hatje Cantz, 2008), and The Marvelous Museum: Orphans, Curiosities & Treasures: A Mark Dion Project (Chronicle Books, 2010). Represented by Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York City, Dion divides his time between New York and Pennsylvania.