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Walton Ford: Pancha Tantraby Bill Buford
Awesome. Think John James Audubon prints in a more twisted and dark light. The title Pancha Tantra refers to an ancient Indian animal folktale book thought to be a precursor to Aesop's Fables. This has lots of sly wit and offhand comments interwoven with the artwork.
Synopses & Reviews
Martius's magnificent work on the varieties of palm tree
On 15 December 1868, Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius, Professor of Botany at the University of Munich and director of the Royal Botanic Garden, was carried to his grave in a coffin covered with fresh palm leaves. These were a reference to his groundbreaking Historia naturalis palmarum: opus tripartitum (Natural History of Palms: a work in three volumes), published between 1823-1850. At the time, this encyclopedic treasury contained the sum of human knowledge on the topic, and included 240 exquisite chromolithographic illustrations, including landscape views of palm habitats and botanical dissections.
This epic folio was based on Martius's expedition to Brazil and Peru with zoologist Johann Baptist von Spix, sponsored by King Maximilian I of Bavaria, to investigate natural history and tribal Indians. From 1817 to 1820 the pair travelled over 2,250 km (1,400 miles) throughout the Amazon Basin, the most species-rich palm region in the world, collecting and sketching specimens. On their return both men were awarded knighthoods and lifetime pensions.
In his epic work, Martius outlined the modern classification of palm, produced the first maps of palm biogeography, described all the palms of Brazil, and collated the sum of all known genera of the palm family. For apart from his own collection of specimens and notes, Martius also wrote about the findings of others.
Martius's folio is unusual in its inclusion of cross-sectioned diagrams, conveying the architecture of these mighty trees, which central Europeans would have found hard to imagine accurately. Equally remarkable are the color landscapes showing various palms—often standing alone—which have a simple and elegant beauty. This famous work is an unrivaled landmark in botanic illustration and taxonomy.
Walton Ford's watercolors of animals could be mistaken for 19th century natural science illustrations or British colonial paintings. Except they're not. Something strange and usually sinister is happening in each of Ford's woks whether its a wild turkey crushing a small parrot with its claw, a collection of monkeys wreaking havoc on a formally set dinner table. Painted with the deft technique of a technical artist, Ford's works vibrate with an intensity of uncanny familiarity; they are both reassuring in style and disturbing in content. This book provides an in-depth exploration of Walton Ford's oeuvre, it also includes a complete professional biography. This unlimited popular edition is for readers on a budget or who were unable to get their hands on the original limited Collector's and Art Edition.
The sinister majesty of Walton Ford's wildlife
At first glance, Walton Fords large-scale, highly-detailed watercolors of animals may recall the prints of 19th century illustrators John James Audubon and Edward Lear, and others of the colonial era. But a closer look reveals a complex and disturbingly anthropomorphic universe, full of symbols, sly jokes, and allusions to the 'operatic' nature of traditional natural history themes. The beasts and birds populating this contemporary artist's life-size paintings are never mere objects, but dynamic actors in allegorical struggles: a wild turkey crushes a small parrot in its claw; a troupe of monkeys wreak havoc on a formal dinner table, an American buffalo is surrounded by bloodied white wolves. The book's title derives from The Pancha Tantra, an ancient Indian book of animal tales considered the precursor to Aesops Fables.
This large-format edition includes an in-depth exploration of Walton Fords oeuvre, a complete biography, and excerpts from his textual inspirations: Vietnamese folktales and the letters of Benjamin Franklin, the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini and Audubons Ornithological Biography.
First published in TASCHEN's limited collector's edition — now available in this popular hardcover edition!
About the Author
About the artist:
Walton Ford, born 1960 in Larchmont, NY, graduated in filmmaking from RISD, but switched to large-scale watercolor painting. His work has been widely exhibited, including shows at the Whitney and Brooklyn museums. He lives and works in Massachusetts.
About the Author -
Bill Buford is an author and New Yorker staff writer, as well as the founding editor of Granta, which he edited for 16 years. His books include Among the Thugs and Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as a Kitchen Slave. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.
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