In 1985, a Chicago hair stylist named John Lanzendorf bought a sculpture of a Tyrannosaurus rex on a whim. Fifteen years later, he had added more than 420 pieces to that initial purchase, assembling a collection that, paleontologist Philip Currie writes, "is the envy of many museums," and that one day doubtless will form the core of a museum collection itself.
Cataloguing only a portion of Lanzendorf's holdings, Dinosaur Imagery joins works by painters, animators, and sculptors, such as John Gurche, Donna Braginetz, and Gary Staab, with extended captions by paleontologists such as Michael Brett-Surman (Smithsonian Institution) and Mark Norell (American Museum of Natural History). The works of art range from the rigorously representational to the occasionally playful (but, fortunately, seldom kitschy), and there are some wonderful finds among them. The texts are revealing; it will come as news to many readers that the ancestor of the aforementioned T. rex may well have sported feathers (its posture, recent anatomical studies suggest, also resembled that of a chicken), that theropods hunted in packs, that sauropods traveled in herds, and that "the extinction of dinosaurs, although scientific dogma for decades, is now recognized as taxonomic illusion."
This well-made book is manna for fans of dinosaurs and dinosauriana, and an ideal gift for budding paleontologists. --Gregory McNamee
With dinosaurs never more popular, representational works of the terrible lizards have poured from the ateliers in recent years. Hundreds of paintings and table-top sculptures from this output reside in a collection assembled by an enthusiast named John Lanzendorf, hair stylist by day, dinophile by night. A selection from Lanzendorf's collection constitutes the core of this lustrous album; text by numerous paleontologists captions the images, particularly detailing an artist's scientific accuracy of depiction. Generations mesmerized by the paintings of the first famous dino-artist, Charles Knight, will instantly recognize in these contemporary paintings--most were executed in the 1990s--the vast revisions in thought about dinosaurs' appearance and behavior since Knight's heyday a century ago. For example, T. rex
no longer rears vertically, triumphally, over a hapless herbivore, but rather, in several paintings by different artists, lopes along in a horizontal posture, scavenging carcasses. But the unknowns about dinosaurs, the color patterns of their hide or plumage, permit these artists much creative latitude, and viewers awed by dinosaurs will find their imaginations every bit as vivid and dramatic as Knight's ever was. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved