Review - "Zoo: Animals in Art"

"Zoo: Animals in Art" by Edward Lucie-Smith is a neat little coffee table-type book succinctly reviewing depictions of non-human animals in human-made art.

By categorizing groups of images and works into categories such as "Water World" and "Microcosmos," the author organizes the books contents into an easily-digested format.

I compliment the Lucie-Smith's variety of animal species (and inclusion of imaginary beasts) portrayed on a huge variety of media. Cats, fish, elephants, and butterflies alike are portrayed on canvas, tapestry, ming vase, or Roman floor mosaic. Additionally, the stretch of time period works were pulled from was expansive, ranging from 10,000 BCE cave paintings to roughly 1997 (a year before the book's copyright date).

While the book excels in some areas, it's hard not to notice a few flaws. Notably, the "superwide" style format forces the author to crop and zoom in on images strangely. This sometimes left me wondering what the rest of the image contains - quite frustrating! Interestingly, neither South American, aboriginal, or native American artwork made much of an appearance at all. If going for the all-over approach, some digital art pieces would have felt welcome.

Overall: 4/5

I'm including a few of my favorite pieces (some are images by artists whose works are in the book, but the image itself is not included):

Flowers That Fly. Oil on canvas, 46" x 66", Leonard Koscianski, 2008.
Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago.

Cat Catching a Bird. Pablo Picasso, 1939.

Umbrian Chair. Ditz, 1987.

Parlour Iguana. 40" x 30", Kendahl Jan Jubb. ~1990s

Chameleon: from Lives of the Animals. Alfred Brehm, 1892.


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