The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi Reviewed

Darwinian Drama from Titan Books

And so the new book showcasing the extraordinary talents of Julius Csotonyi arrives at our offices and we have been given the task of writing a review. This may be a new publication from Titan Books, but we are very familiar with the artwork. Visitors to such prestigious establishments such as the Royal Tyrrell Museum (Alberta, Canada), the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County we have also seen the digital renderings of Julius Csotonyi. He has been commissioned on numerous occasions to create dioramas and prehistoric scenes to help bring to life the museum exhibits, to literally put flesh onto the bones of long extinct creatures and help visitors to learn more about prehistoric life that once roamed our planet or swam in ancient Earth seas. Fossils are the remains of extinct animals preserved for scientists to study, it is artists such as Mr Csotonyi who are given the job of bringing these long dead organisms back and showing them as breathing, living animals.

The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi

This book contains a number of the most famous and well-known illustrations and sets out to give the reader an insight into the motivation and creative style that permits the artist to imagine and recreate such amazing detailed pictures of animals from the past. The full title of this publication is “The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi – Dinosaurs, Sabre-Tooths and Beyond”, although there is a heavy bias towards illustrations of Mesozoic vertebrates, especially the Dinosauria.

Laid out by Geological Eras

After the short introduction by Dr. D. C. Evans of the Royal Ontario Museum and a preamble from Dr. Robert Bakker that outlines how Julius with his scientific background (he studied microbiology), is able to capture moments of prehistory with his artwork, there is a lengthy interview with the artist. Entitled “In Conversation”, the artist’s early inspirations and his progression towards becoming one of the most pre-eminent palaeoartists is mapped out. The rest of the book is dedicated to displaying the vivid digital artwork and illustrations that now grace some of the world’s most prestigious natural history museums. The book follows a loose chronological order starting with the Palaeozoic Era, then moving on into the Mesozoic before concluding with some of Julius Csotonyi’s illustrations inspired by Cenozoic life. The largest portion of the book is dedicated to illustrating Mesozoic creatures. However, within each section the layout of the animals and the subject areas are not in chronological order. You can expect to find a dramatic recreation of a flooded Devonian forest complete with sparring Placoderms up against a mural depicting the Permian mass extinction event.

Fantastic Prehistoric Images

The star of this book is obviously the artwork. The text is kept to a minimum except for cursory explanations of image content and some notes related to the images themselves. There are special features on prehistoric animals that have been commissioned as part of a larger body of work. For example, the artist discusses the scientific evidence that was used to recreate his image of Tiktaalik, an early Tetrapod. There is also a special feature on the Chinese feathered dinosaur Guanlong, plus some exquisite drawings and digital artwork as the fossil evidence is brought to life.

Dinosaurs are the Stars

Whether it is their size or scale, or perhaps because the dinosaur galleries tend to be the most popular areas of natural history museums, the book features a lot of dinosaur illustrations. A huge array of different types of dinosaur are contained within this book, from a lovely montage of the horns and frills of the Ceratopsidae to dioramas featuring fearsome Tyrannosaurs. In the book, there are a number of fold out sections which when folded out show a complete mural that Julius has painted. These beautiful illustrations permit the reader to appreciate some of the size and magnitude of individual commissions. Fossils are brought to life as the animals themselves and their environment is depicted.

Concluding with the Cenozoic

The book concludes with a section dedicated to illustrations of prehistoric mammals from the Cenozoic. There are highly detailed digital images of giant Arctic camels, ancient whales as well as those Sabre-Toothed Cats promised in the full title. This part of the book also contains some lovely pencil drawings of Mammoths, Mastodons and ancient ungulates. The 156 pages are very much dedicated to highlighting the often breathtaking artwork of Julius Csotonyi, however, there is a helpful glossary at the back along with a geological timescale that helps put the illustrations into context.

Would we recommend this Publication?

Ever since Julius first began serious scientific illustration back in 1998, he has been regarded as one of the foremost in his field. He combines scientific knowledge with a vivid imagination to create stunning visual masterpieces. This book is highly recommended, as it celebrates his artwork, especially that created in the digital medium and dinosaur fans, scientists and general art lovers will all enjoy leafing through its glossy pages.