Monday, June 2, 2014

A more detailed look at The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi

Sorry to anyone waiting for this more in depth review. I've had a really bad 1.5 weeks at work.

Without further delay, I give you my more elongated review of The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi.


A fantastic popular Palaeoart volume, that delivers huge amounts of top notch palaeoart.
 Fantastic for especially young up and coming palaeo nuts, as a huge amount of modern palaeo findings and thinking are communicated through pictures (with supplementary text if needed). 

Might be a let down for those seeking a super technical volume. Again this is a nice coffee table book full of prehistoric beast pictures. Does have some good science, but doesn't go into detail.

So let's start with the book itself. Simply put it is gorgeous. It is large, with amazing cover art, is well bound, and made from high quality paper. It is not a huge volume, at 156 pages, but it is tightly packed with art.

The art itself consists of a great deal of Mr. Csotonyi portfolio. I haven't counted the precise number of pieces, but it is close to 150 (given there is an average of at least 1 piece of art per page). What makes this a treat is many of these pieces are his museum commissions, that for the most part have not been published anywhere outside the institute they were created for. Further there were several pieces Mr. Csotonyi created specifically for this book, making them brand new!

The pictures are printed in high quality and for the most part translate into print incredibly well. However the odd print darkening does betray Mr. Csotonyi's digital painting matted on photographs technique once and a while, and causes the critters to really stand out from the background. I personally, working in pure digital myself, sympathize having had my own printing battles with darkening. However for a purist that might find this jarring, check it out before buying if you are more picky. I don't think it ruins these pieces, but it is slightly noticeable is why I mention it.  

The volume is divided by time period, organizing the organisms and environments very roughly by their era. Overall the book is overwhelmingly Mesozoic, and specifically Dinosaurs (though the sample pictures Titan Books sent when I requested some, do not reflect this ;p ).

It is not text heavy, but I think that is to the book's strength. When the book says it is THE palaeoart of an artist, I want the palaeoart ;). That said there is what I'd say is almost the perfect amount of writing to give the art context.

You get two introductions by doctors David Evans and Robert Bakker, an interview with Mr. Csotonyi about his art and science philosophy (including some interesting side tangents about his interest in Xenobiology), descriptive blurbs for each piece of art, the occasional testimonial of professional palaeontologist's about Mr. Csotonyi's art in general or a specific piece, and even a few making of's for some of the pieces of art.

For those of you who wanted a very technical volume on the research or making of the art, are probably going to be disappointed. It is a perfectly targeted popular book, and while none of the information inside will be a surprise to palaeo enthusiasts, it is nice to have all this current nearly cut edge art and science in one volume.

Here I come to my (what I think is) unique take home on this book. If I were to recommend it to anyone, I'd say this is a key book to give to any palaeo enthusiast kids you might know. Immediately this book is devoid of any palaeo-memes, and is all art based on current research. So younger "readers" will be exposed to something a lot more cutting edge then the standard kids Dino book. The text that is presented with the pictures is short, and simple enough kids can get more info from if they want it.

However let's face it, most kids love Dinosaur picture books. Not only does this book feature scientifically accurate work, but has way more material then your average Dinosaur kids book. I can't see how this would be a flop for the up and coming palaeontologist in your life.

I can't think of anything else that needs saying. If you like this website, I can't see how you'd dislike this book.

I hope we keep getting more of these volumes for different artists.

So head to your nearest bookstore and enjoy ;)