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When Elephants Paint: The Quest of Two Russian Artists to Save the Elephants of Thailand Hardcover – November 21, 2000

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Once revered as semidivine beings and collaborators in the hard work of transporting goods and materials, Thailand's elephants have fallen on hard times. With the destruction of their forested habitats, a consequent nationwide ban on hardwood logging, and the decline of traditional agriculture in the rapidly urbanizing country, their numbers have declined from tens of thousands just a decade ago to only a few thousand today. Many of the surviving elephants have been put to work in traveling circuses or used for black-market labor, subject to overwork and all manner of abuse.

Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, Russian expatriates who have been working together for more than 30 years, have a knack, writes art curator Mia Fineman, for "transforming the solemn rituals of high art into high comedy." It was with the utmost seriousness, however, that the two, on reading of the elephants' plight, traveled to Thailand and established the Thai Elephant Art School, through whose offices elephants create pop-art masterpieces with palette, brush, and trunk. (Elephants, it seems, have a well-known gift for the visual arts and, in the Thai case, adore the work of Vasily Kandinsky.) Sold to collectors on the world market, pachyderm-painted pieces generated $75,000 at a single early auction, the proceeds of which were used to establish and maintain sanctuaries throughout Thailand.

Illustrated with elephantine artwork and more than 100 photographs documenting Komar and Melamid's project, this book makes a wonderfully offbeat gift, and one of a very good cause. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Komar and Melamid's sensibility is funny, prickly, complex, humane, dense with implications, and a baited trap for ideologues and hypocrites." -- --Luc Sante, New York Times Book Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (November 21, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060955961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060955960
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This lovely book is important proof of the highly evolved state of consciousness in elephants -- mental and emotional. It has wonderful photos of actual paintings by elephants, and is written in an amusing and witty style. It is an inspiring read for anyone interested in animals, but I think also helps cross the gap between those who already attuned to animals and those who need to have their eyes opened to what animals are really like.
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Format: Hardcover
Beautiful photography and interesting text, but I was interested in the actual art as painted by the elephants, but there is very little of that. Mostly pictures of jungles. If you like that you will like the book. If you want to see the acutual artwork you will be very dissapointed.
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Format: Paperback
This book has many pictures and covers the material well. My only disappointment was that it was written to appeal to a slightly younger audience than I had hoped. However, I do not regret my purchase. I would highly recommend this book.
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