PALEOART: VISIONS OF THE PREHISTORIC PAST
By Zoë Lescaze with a preface by Walton Ford. TASCHEN (2017)
When many people hear “paleoart,” they picture woolly mammoths painted on cave walls twenty thousand years ago. Paleoart is actually a relatively new genre, though; one that began in the early nineteenth century when modern humans first started to imagine how prehistoric animals looked in life. Paleoart is the practice of robing fossil bones in scales and skin, and this book is a visual history of the wildly eclectic ways artists have depicted a world no one has ever seen.
Prehistory is a protean muse. The personality of the primordial planet varies dramatically from one work of art to the next, depending on the artist and his or her cultural context. Prehistoric reptiles are bloodthirsty monsters in one image, melancholy victims of extinction in another. These diverse depictions of the distant past often reveal as much about the present as they do about deep time. From small oil paintings to frescoes twice the size of subway cars, delicate watercolors to colossal concrete sculptures, paleoart ranges across media. This book collects some of the most compelling examples of this dazzling unsung genre.