Animal Arts | Fine Arts Reviews

A beautiful coffee table–style book that will appeal to art, animal, and cultural history enthusiasts; animal lovers, artists, poets, and term paper writers seeking inspiration will find enjoyment or their muse in this work

Animal: Exploring the Zoological World. Phaidon. Oct. 2018. 352p. ed. by Phaidon Eds. & others. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780714876818. $59.95. FINE ARTS
James Hanken (Harvard Univ.) and other zoologists and curators present side-by-side pairs of creatures, real, digital, mythical and fantastic, chosen to encourage readers to learn about animals. Giacomo Balla’s painting Dynamism of Dog on Leash, showing speed, paired with the illustration of a tortoise in a beribboned bonnet may cause smiles. Tomada’s ant infestation museum installation featuring ants made of human skull castings and muslin opposite a 30-foot-tall steel mother spider by Louise Bourgeois may not. While some may prefer to skip over image pairs such as see-through sea creatures and 100-times magnifications of mosquitoes, other images such as the rainbow-like thermogram of penguins showing their warmer heads as lemon yellow and cooler wings as deep purple may fascinate. The time line lists selected works in chronological order from prehistory through the present, and briefly summarizes evolution and the uses of artistic animal images. Includes an animal taxonomy and select biographies of historical and contemporary naturalists, scientists, and artists, as well as a further reading list.
VERDICT Thanks to its easy-to-read text and beautiful illustrations, this coffee table–style book will appeal to art, animal, and cultural history enthusiasts.—Nancy J. Mactague, formerly Aurora Univ. Lib., IL

Masters, Christopher. Bestiary. Thames & Hudson. Oct. 2018. 256p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500480236. $24.95. FINE ARTS
Showcasing objects from the British Museum’s collection and arranging them thematically, art lecturer and writer Masters (Dalí; Windows in Art) shows links can be made between concepts, especially good and evil, and images from different times and geographic areas, as well as notable differences within one culture or time. Keen observation of nature is shown in the 100 CE Roman micromosaic of lobster, octopus, and fish. A 17th-century Japanese artist improved upon nature with his gilded sliding paper doors showing water fowl in the same location over the course of four seasons. From humble materials such as terra-cotta and wood to lavish presentations of gold, pearls, and precious gems, from adorable to terrifying, from naturalistic to fantastic, hybrids such as centaurs and anguipede figures with their snakelike legs, these beasts burst off the page showing the artists’ relationship with their god(s) and fellow humans. With equal amounts of space devoted to the 268 images as to text, this title also offers further reading and illustration references.
VERDICT Animal lovers, artists, poets, and term paper writers seeking inspiration will find enjoyment or their muse in this book.Nancy J. Mactague, formerly Aurora Univ. Lib., IL 

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