James Prosek

Art, Artifact, Artifice

Publisher: Yale University Press.

ISBN: 978-0-300-25079-4

Pages: 159

Works by Prosek and others are juxtaposed with natural objects in an illuminating interrogation of the artificial boundaries we create between art and nature.


Award-winning artist, writer, and naturalist James Prosek (b. 1975) has gained a worldwide following for his deep connection with the natural world, which serves as the basis for his art and numerous popular books. In this cross-disciplinary catalogue, Prosek poses the question, What is art and what is artifact—and to what extent do these distinctions matter? Drawing on the collections of the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Prosek places man- and nature-made objects on equal footing aesthetically, suggesting that the distinction between them is not as vast as we may believe. In more than 150 full-color plates, objects such as a bird’s nest, dinosaur head, and cuneiform tablet are juxtaposed with Asian handscrolls, an African headdress, modern masterpieces, and more. Artists featured include Albrecht Dürer, Helen Frankenthaler, Vincent van Gogh, Barbara Hepworth, Pablo Picasso, and Jackson Pollack, as well as Prosek himself, whose works depict fish, birds, and endangered wildlife. Also included are an incisive essay by Edith Devaney and texts by Prosek that explore the magnificent productions of our wondrous interconnected world.


James Prosek is the 2018 Happy and Bob Doran Artist in Residence at the Yale University Art Gallery. 

Edith Devaney is head of summer exhibitions and contemporary curator at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.


Published by Yale University Art Gallery

Publication made possible by Donna and Marvin Schwartz, with additional support provided by Susan and Stephen Mandel, Jr., the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the Richard P. Garmany Fund, the Janet and Simeon Braguin Fund, and the Robert Lehman, B.A. 1913, Endowment Fund.