Monday, January 16, 2012

Sculpture: Tyrannosaurus Rex

I'm not the first person to recognize the intimate relationship between art and paleontology. One of the great benefits of writing this blog has been meeting artists who inspire me with their craftsmanship, imagination, and dedication to the inherent beauty in biological forms. Even better than that is learning of the surging culture of young paleoartists hashing out their form on-line. Their ability and discipline is humbling and has spurred me on to make a career of visual science communication. So, when artist Andrew Chase emailed me about his sculpture of Tyrannosaurus rex, my mind was primed to be blown.

Here was an artist who recognized the integrity of the tyrant lizard's form. This is something I admire in the greatest paleoart, and it's the reason I harp on scientific accuracy (concerning which, I admit, I still have much to learn). The greater understanding paleontologists have given us - how dinosaurs moved, breathed and inhabited their lost worlds - has resulted in more resonant art.

I asked Andrew what drew him, as an artist, to this particular animal. "Tyrannosaurus has a purity of form that I find beautiful," he answered. "In my opinion, the T. rex is basically a mouth delivery device, everything else is subordinate to that. No goofy crests, sails, horns/protrusions for sexual display, for this baby it's all about the head. What's the tail for? To balance the head. Legs? Moving the head to the food. Brain? Overrated, keep it small and you can make the jaws bigger. Arms? Not necessary, lose 'em (well almost) and increase the size of the head. I think that singular dedication of purpose is maladaptive but really, really cool." 

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