The Art of Exploration: National Geographic's Illustrators "Serve as Trusted Interpreters of Complex Information with Images That Astound and Delight, Allowing Readers to See Things That Never Actually Could Be Observed without an Artist's Intervention."

Article excerpt

FROM A MICROCOSM of life existing in ordinary backyard soil to visions of the most distant reaches of the cosmos, the vibrant illustrations in National Geographic magazine have taken readers on expeditions of discovery for more than a century. An engrossing new exhibition pays tribute to the publication's artists who have enriched and expanded our comprehension of the world. It contains more than 100 original works of art, including many from the magazine's archives.

Artists always have played a major role in making the 117-year-old National Geographic magazine the publication that it is--a colorful, painstakingly researched guide to the fascinating world around us. Here, illustrators serve as trusted interpreters of complex information with images that astound and delight, allowing readers to see things that never actually could be observed without an artist's intervention.

Using all available clues, artists and scientists work in tandem to describe how the world and its civilizations unfolded long before the existence of cameras--and even before the existence of man. Today. new discoveries sometimes solve ancient mysteries, and gifted illustrators continue to employ their vast knowledge and skill to interpret new data for the publication's pages, revealing the wonders of nature and the glory of civilizations that flourished and faded long ago.

"'The Art of Exploration' honors National Geographic's commitment to the art of illustration as a living medium with the power to communicate, teach, and inspire. Each work of art is truly a treasure to behold," marvels Stephanie Plunkett, curator of illustrative art for the Norman Rockwell Museum.

Prior to publication, each commissioned piece goes through a lengthy series of stages, beginning with conceptual sketches, then detailed drawings, and sometimes the creation of three-dimensional models that help the artist visualize the subject more clearly. …