An Adam Fuss fungus photogram.
Courtesy Adam Fuss

How Mushrooms Have Proliferated as a Material for Art-Making

By Aileen Kwun
February 22, 2020
1 minute read

Artists, chefs, and scientists have long found creative inspiration in mushrooms, and for a variety of reasons. Prized for centuries for its range of psychedelic, medicinal, and culinary applications, the versatile fungi have more recently become an experimental medium that designers are using to make eco-friendly textiles, products, and even construction materials. As exemplified in the works of British artist Adam Fuss—who creates photograms by placing spores on light-sensitive paper and letting them bloom in contact to create an abstract print of their unique growth patterns—mushrooms are also simply a source of visual intrigue and natural beauty.

One thing’s for sure: the fungus is among us, seemingly cropping up in all areas of the creative sphere. On view through April 26 at London’s Somerset House, “Mushrooms: The Art, Design, and Future of Fungi,” organized by Francesca Gavin, examines the widespread influence of the humble organism, featuring the work of 40 artists, designers, and musicians. Highlights include composer John Cage’s illustrated Mushroom Book of recipes and observations, artworks by Cy Twombly, and a series of events including a pop-up dinner by chef Skye Gyngell and a hands-on workshop for learning how to grow your own mushrooms at home.