Friday, January 29, 2010

Vintage Dinosaur Art: George Solonevich

Compsognathus
A George Solonevich Compsognathus

George Solonevich, a Russian political dissident, escaped the Soviet Union and eventually had a successful art career in the United States. He is well known for his space illustrations; here are some created for the Golden Book Planets: Other Worlds of Our Solar System.

Solonevich worked in various styles, from grotesque portraits to those subdued, technoutopian space paintings. The dinosaurs in 1965's Dinosaurs and More Dinosaurs fall on the grotesque edge of the spectrum. See the Ceratosaurus featured on the book's cover: an oily, brutish monster. You can imagine touching it and winding up with a hand smeared in grease.

Dinosaurs and more Dinosaurs
The cover model: Ceratosaurus.

These two early theropods aren't too cuddly, either. Creeping things with spindly legs and beady eyes.
coelophysis_podokesaurus
Coelophysis and Podokesaurus: A pair now thought to be one in the same.

Of course, a mid-century dinosaur book wouldn't be worth the glue that binds it if it didn't include at least one submerged sauropod.
Snorklin' Dicraeosaurus
A Dicraeosaurus, snorkling. Do fish blow bubbles?

More information: Roanoke College has an online gallery of their collection of Solonevich art. For the really curious, you can check out a short video about him, dating from 1991.

6 comments:

  1. Awesome post! Thanks for reminding me that I've got this book on my shelf somewhere.

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  2. I enjoyed this book as a kid. Solonevich's dinosaurs look as if they were modeled in clay--an effect that I really liked, and still do (even though they're clearly not very accurate). Thanks for stirring some pleasant memories.

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  3. These are incredible depictions. Probably not very helpful from a scientific standpoint, but nothing dating before the 70's is anymore, I guess.
    I had this book as a kid too, as well as another Scholastic paperback illustrated by Arnold Roth. Both had surrealistic illos that were very grotesque and distorted, but drawn with such careful detail, that you were forced to accept what you were seeing. The cover in particular is amazing. The odd lighting from underneath and the variations going from high-contrast detail to washy brushstrokes are worth spending time with.

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  4. These are incredible depictions. Probably not very helpful from a scientific standpoint, but nothing dating before the 70's is anymore, I guess.
    I had this book as a kid too, as well as another Scholastic paperback illustrated by Arnold Roth. Both had surrealistic illos that were very grotesque and distorted, but drawn with such careful detail, that you were forced to accept what you were seeing. The cover in particular is amazing. The odd lighting from underneath and the variations going from high-contrast detail to washy brushstrokes are worth spending time with.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for bringing these illustrations back into light. I remember getting a Scholastic poster of these illustrations back in the first or second grade. It was unique because they were rather "scary"- nothing else back then, or since, looked like them. Great stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for bringing these illustrations back into light. I remember getting a Scholastic poster of these illustrations back in the first or second grade. It was unique because they were rather "scary"- nothing else back then, or since, looked like them. Great stuff.

    ReplyDelete

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