Monday, March 19, 2012

Vintage Dinosaur Art: José Olivier

This week's dip into the great swirling sea of paleoart past brings José Olivier into the "family." He seems to be a particularly obscure illustrator, which is a shame: his work is so dramatic and fun. It's definitely in the mold of Burian, but not slavishly so. The book these come from, the German publication of Michel Cuisin's Prehistoric Life, was published in the early eighties. There's not much information available on either Cuisin or Olivier, but as Cusin has been publishing since the seventies, I'll have to work on the assumption that Olivier's work comes from that time. These were shared with the Vintage Dinosaur Art pool by geoblogger David Bressan, who also shared images I wrote about in December.

First up is a tranquil scene of ceratopsian bliss, as a Triceratops pair takes a rare break from their usual schedule of battling Tyrannosaurus after Tyrannosaurus.


The proud tribe of sauropods are represented here by that old standby Diplodocus, in a composition reminiscent of the ever-popular How and Why Book of Dinosaurs (thanks to Niroot for helping me figure out the classic image I was thinking of, after mistakenly believing it was a Knight illo).


These Diplodocus bear necks with next to no musculature, an effect which is taken to its inevitable conclusion in this version of another LITC favorite meme, theropods chowing down on sauropod necks as the poor herbivores watch on in horror. I love how the tyrannosaur seems to be popping up straight out of the ground, like a jack-in-the-box.


Pterosaurs get their due, of course, in the form of this jolly Pterodactylus soaring with wings of plastic over a pair of Stegosaurus...


...and this woeful Pteranodon, who has sustained a terrible rip to his wing and plummets to the unforgiving Earth below. I love how the backgrounds in these eschew the antediluvian fecundity of so many other Mesozoic landscapes, favoring great glowering monoliths and stormy skies. There's something to be said for this moody, monochrome take on the Mesozoic; while it may have been overdone back in the stupid and swampbound days of yore, there's just something so right about the pairing of titanic dinosaurs and pterosaurs with menacing gloom (my favorite example of this off the top of my head is Skrepnick's Centrosaurus herd).


When I first saw the Flickr thumbnail of this next one, I thought for a split second that it would be Pachycephalosaurus. Then I realized that it's just an especially dome-headed T. rex. "Olivier deserves two thumbs up for this two-fingered rexy," said the hack movie critic watching over my shoulder as I wrote this. I agree, though I would never say it in such a goofy way.


I can't help but save especially silly illustrations for last. It's a crutch, what can I say. I can avoid wrestling with a summary paragraph and leave you instead with something like this: Allosaurus and Iguanodon, tearing up the Jurassic dance floor. Such a joyous scene.


This is what it was like in Eden, before Eve ate that stupid piece of fruit and carnivory happened. Thanks for sharing these with us, David!


  1. Thanks, David (×2), these are great pics. I especially like that Triceratops is depicted doing something other than standing around munching on some foliage or facing off against its eternal foe. It looks like it might be an actual animal.

    Those Pterodactylus wings are ridiculous. The spindly 4th fingers would have snapped as soon as it flapped its wings.

    And I believe Iggy and Al are doing The Stomp.

  2. Mark, I wondered if they were doing the Black Bottom at first, but you may be right.

    I love the expression of the foreground Triceratops. A kind of contented pride.

    I never knew the backend-first sauropod was a Knight characteristic. I tend to prefer drawing sauropods walking away from the viewer myself.

    1. That may have been exhaustion speaking. I don't know what I was thinking of, so I've edited that bit.

    2. Oh, I wasn't picking you up on it, I was genuinely curious! It must clearly have entered my consciousness too, in that case, as many people have evidently been doing sauropods facing away. And there was me being wonderfully naive in supposing it was less common.

    3. Well, you made me realize that some how my brain picked Knight's name out of the mist for some reason... Honestly, I sometimes feel like my memory is just a big ball of dino-mush. It's too easy to mix up artist names and pieces of artwork!

    4. ...Whereas mine is simply mush, period.

    5. Ooh, that reminds me. Someone, who shall remain nameless but isn't Marc Vincent, said that they might be able to get around to scanning the How and Why Book of Dinosaurs after the semester was over. I'm not sure which semester was being referenced but I'm hoping that it ends soon. :-)

      Pretty please, when you get a moment. No rush - the world's not ending until December.

    6. It was me. I'll get to it.

  3. this is another fantastic post. I love these wrinkly moody dinosaurs. Even if the triceratops is a bit pompous about it.

  4. "a Triceratops pair takes a rare break from their usual schedule of battling Tyrannosaurus after Tyrannosaurus." Love it. T-Rex and Triceratops seem to be Thunderdome rivals.

    And that T-Rex is rather...rotund. Look at that left leg. Who knew triceratops were so caloric?

    1. This particular rex subsists mainly on a diet of John C. McLoughlin Triceratops ( Plenty of extra fat stores on their neck humps.

  5. I like the suspicious look that Diplodocus is giving those eggs. "Who put these in my nest when I wasn't looking?" or "Heyyyy....weren't there 6 eggs here a minute ago?"

  6. The last illustration is easy to explain. They're all gettin' on the floor doin the dinosaur.


Trolls get baleted.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.