Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pictures at an Exhibition Part 4: The Paleo-art of Zdeněk Burian

Dear Constant Readers,

While my own "art" is slowly getting worked on, I figured that I might as well share the work of people who far eclipse me in talent and imagination. Judging from my previous posts you can probably see that I enjoy both old paintings and strange (oft-prehistoric) creatures, so you can see what the appeal of Paleo-art is. While Paleo-art is very common today, it's just...different. Back in the early to mid 20th century it just seemed more "artistic". The people working on it were really artists and really talented ones at that. I can't precisely pin down what made these paintings species, it really is something too subtle for my clunky language skills. This seems to be a recurring theme in these blogs.

My artist of the day is Mr. Zdeněk Michael František Burian, a Czech painter. All of his images just have a ring of familiarity from my childhood, so perhaps it is my own nostalgia that makes them special too me. The reconstructions are fairly decent fothe most part, although his dinosaurs are notably dated. But that doesn't matter too much, the paintings are dynamic and a lot of fun, far removed from my own diagram-like work. Plus, they just have this iconic feel to them.

Oh yes, I'm also going to attempt to label these animals myself, and of course if I get some wrong I expect you all to correct me! God knows I need all the help I can get. Obviously there is going to be some selection bias here; you people curious about Connor's Island may get some hints about future ideas. Enough rambling, picture time.

The fossil freshwater shark Xenacanthus. It had a pretty impressive run from the Devonian to the Triassic.

Mesosaurus, one of the first secondarily aquatic reptiles from the Early Permian.

A Gorgonopsid Therapsid ("mammal-like reptile"), possibly Lycaenops.

A gigantic marine lizard (i.e. a mosasaur), Tylosaurus? Many prehistoric reptiles are incorrectly called "lizards" (or more commonly, dinosaurs) but this actually was a close relative of monitors and snakes.

A dark and brooding Pliosaur of some kind.

Basilosaurus, a primitive whale with an unusually elongated body. The maximum size is 50-60 feet in most sources, but occasionally stated as being 25 meters (80+ feet). I have no idea what this discrepancy is about.

Uintatherium, a bizarre primitive herbivorous mammal unrelated to anything alive today.

Deinotherium, a huge elephant-like proboscidean which survived until a couple million years ago.

A Phorusrhacid "Terror Bird", chiefly from South America. Taken from here.

An Australopithecine, maybe Paranthropus.

The Elephant Bird, Aepyornis.

And for more illustrations, please go to the archived page on the Internet Archives. Who knows why the thing isn't working anymore...the Internet Archive comes to the rescue again! Thanks to my annonymous commentator for pointing that out to me. You can identify yourself on this thing you know, like this:



Anonymous said...

What I thought of when I heard "paleo-art" would be some awesome cave drawings, needless to say I was wrong.

Henceforth I shall comment upon all of the pictures in order.

1. That man doesn't look crazy enough to justify his name.

2. It loks like a fish, but it has the mouth of a shark.

3. This one just looks scared. Sort of like an alligator/cormorant who just realized that it can't swill that well either.

And now for a brief pause as I refresh the page in order to see more monsters.

4. Forth Gorgonopsid, the only one that I can pronounce. When you create your animals, you also need to create an environment for them. So, practice drawing trees.

5. Now this one looks pretty normal, then again it's probably fifty feet long...

6. Awe, this one looks angsty.

7. Ha, that thing is so lazy looking. Fine, I guess since you're in my mouth I might as well eat you.

And the other ones will remain a mystery.

Anonymous said...

Hey where did all the images go? They didn't load and when I clicked on them I was denyed access.