If the cover doesn’t grab you, go back to sleep. Published in 2012, DINOSAUR ART is 188 large pages of eye popping illustrations/interpretations, interviews and commentary highlighting the work of ten renown modern paleoartists. The collection includes paintings, computer art, and black and white sketches of an assortment of extinct animals known only from fossils: marine life, dinosaurs, pterosaurs, reptiles, mammals and insects. The artists are Julius Csotonyi, Gregory Paul, Mauricio Antón, Douglas Henderson, Todd Marshall, John Sibbick, Luis Rey, John Conway, Robert Nicholls and Raúl Martín.
Dinosaurs are now considered by many paleontologists to be warm blooded animals, which altered the century-long standing perception of them as lumbering overblown reptiles to agile creatures, often swift, the precursors of modern birds. Appropriately the very first color illustration depicts Luis Rey’s rendition of a stalking Megalosaurus superimposed over a photograph of the famous Waterhause Hawkins’ clunky crystal palace sculpture. Hard to believe the same collection of old bones inspired both renditions, although clearly it is two interpretations of the same creature.
Steve White’s commentary gives a brief overview of paleontology, focusing on the dinosaur renaissance begun in the 1970’s by Robert Bakker, as well as the personal histories and individual perspectives of the artists involved, much of it done through dialogue with the artists. His style is crisp and lively, chock full of tantalizing anecdotes and fascinating tidbits.
The artwork is remarkably varied, including animal studies, breath-taking landscapes showing a day in the life, watering hole scenes, predators on the hunt, several remarkable interpretations of select moments before the K2 impact that ended the dominance of these creatures, and a pair of stunning mega-croc-hunting-Albertosaurus scenes, one of which appears on the cover of the book. Some of the dinosaurs will be familiar to most, while others only to those with a more in-depth interest; some might just be new to everyone. Likewise some of the illustrations themselves might be familiar, having previously appeared in periodicals such as National Geographic or as murals in museums, but all are rendered with loving care. In some cases, the artists were even consulted to give the specific "official" interpretation of recently discovered animals, such as the oddly humpbacked Concavenator
This book is appropriate for everyone, especially anyone with an interest in extinct life forms—and given the rate at which we are turning this planet into a hazardous waste dump--that may soon include most of the life forms we know first hand, including humans. So taken as either a curiosity, or a superficial study of creatures that were far more successful than humans will ever be, DINOSAUR ART is a keeper.
for under $25.
© Paul L.Bates 2013