George Gessert is one of the best-known artists in the contemporary art movement known as bio-art a/k/a BioArt. Initially Gessert began his career as a painter and printmaker, and began breeding plants as an art form in the late 1970s. Beginning in the 1980s, his work has focused on the overlap between art and genetics, and he has exhibited a series of installations of hybrids and documentation of breeding projects.
George Gessert was born in 1944 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has a BA in English from the University of California at Berkeley, 1966 and an MA in Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1969.
Gessert creates his artistic irises by hybridizing wild varieties and discarding the undesirable results. He is especially interested in plant aesthetics and ways that human aesthetic preferences affect evolution. Gessert calls his practice "genetic folk art," and his work points to the way nature is interpreted—even authored—by humans. His focus has been mainly on irises and other ornamental flowers.
He has received various awards, including the Leonardo Award for Excellence and the Pushcart prize for his essay titled "Notes on Uranium Weapons and Kitsch." His article "An Orgy of Power" was included in Best American Essays 2007. He is also an Editorial Board Member of Leonardo Journal published by MIT Press.
- Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology
- Art and Genetics Bibliography compiled by George Gessert for Leonardo/ISAST
- Art + Bio Gallery curated by George Gessert for Leonardo/ISAST