For more than a century, the National Geographic Society's illustrators have taken readers to places beyond the reach of the camera's lens, on extraordinary journeys of the imagination, to destinations that can be seen only through the artist's eye. With vivid colors and subtle brush strokes, they have led us back to the birth of our planet and forward to the colonization of space. They have laid out before our wondering eyes the enigmatic faces of our earliest ancestors and the rich mysteries of the natural world. Selected from the more than 12,000 illustrations in the National Geographic archives, the 156 stunning images reproduced in this book make up the first comprehensive exhibition of this important collection of artwork. The 65 illustrators represented include such widely known artists as N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, James Gurney, Syd Mead, and three-time Caldecott Award-winner Jerry Pinkney, as well as many others whose unmistakable styles are known to National Geographic readers worldwide. The Art of National Geographic explores science and nature, humankind's accomplishments and conflicts, and all the wonders of the universe in a wide variety of media, from oil paint and watercolor to cutting-edge computer graphics. In his salutary foreword, renowned scientist and author Stephen Jay Gould confirms the continuing importance of illustration to scientific investigation. In the book's lively and informative text, Alice A. Carter, an award-winning illustrator herself, reveals as much about the behind-the-scenes adventure of creating this art, and the science behind it, as it does about the artists themselves. For art lovers, armchair explorers, history and science buffs alike, The Art of National Geographic is at once a glorious visual treasury and an invaluable reference, a sweeping excursion through our world and our achievements, and a fascinating history of the National Geographic Society's century-long commitment to outstanding illustration.