Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dragon Art (Graeme Aymer)

Dragon Art
Graeme Aymer
Flame Tree Publishing
Nonfiction, Art
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: Be they primordial embodiments of chaos or peaceful guardians of nature, world-encompassing serpents or fluttering fairy beasts, dragons have been around since before the dawn of history, and are likely to endure to the end of human existence. This book celebrates the ubiquitous dragon in fantasy art, including many illustrations by artists from around the world, plus a foreword by noted fantasy artist John Howe.

REVIEW: This one came close to a full Good rating, but its ambition overshot its execution. It includes an admirable array of images, depicting all manner of dragons rendered in various media by artists young and old, newcomers and established masters of the field. However, aside from an early section on famous dragon artists (including John Howe, Michael Whelan, and other big names), the images rarely coincide with the text near which they appear; the arrangement seems entirely random, not helped by the odd two- or four-page spreads depicting works in progress. The artwork itself is mostly modern, dating back perhaps to the 1980's or late 1970's at the earliest. Its quality varies, but Aymer at least selected artists with different styles and approaches. I would've liked some examples of the old-school masters whose works influenced many of today's fantasy art masters. Though he mentions names like Frederick Leighton and Joseph Turner, I had to visit the internet to see their works. The text covers a broad range of dragon-related subjects, from historical roots to the digital-versus-traditional media debate, with varying degrees of depth. The movie selection in particular feels stilted, especially when Aymer tries to include Jurassic Park's dinosaurs and the monsters from the Alien franchise under the dragon umbrella. He also skips some definitive literary dragons and dragon-related works.
In the end, even if the writing could've been more informative, Dragon Art is a visual treat for dragon artists and aficionados. If you find it discounted - as I did, at a secondhand book store - it's worth picking up for your collection.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Forging Dragons (John Howe) - My Review
Fantasy Art Masters (Dick Jude) - My Review
The Art of the Dragon (J. David Spurlock and Patrick Wilshire) - My Review

No comments:

Post a Comment