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Lost Anatomies: The Evolution Of The Human Form by John Gurche (book review).

April 2, 2019 | By | Reply More

Now, here is a stunning book even if you’re looking solely at the art of John Gurche. However, the book ‘Lost Anatomies: The Evolution Of The Human Form’ is actually a look at various primates in text and illustrated. Gurche is an anatomist by trade but has drawn, penned, pastels and a little digital enhancement of various pictures of them and became the ideal artist to be called on to bring fossil bones into a joined up form because he knows which which parts of the bone would secure tendons.

When you see how this is applied to ‘Lucy’, the earliest hominid, you can appreciate how this is just as important as the artists who bring dinosaurs to life in pictures to give form to bone evidence.

Each of the four large chapters have essays from different specialists explaining the importance of the art and on the evolution of the hominads. David R. Begun looks at the great apes, Carol Ward at the Australian hominids, Rick Potts at our early ancestors and Trenton W. Holliday at Neantherthals. Each provides information on discoveries like ‘Lucy’ which you should be familiar with and how primates and early man developed.

Lost Anatomies: The Evolution of the Human Form by John Gurche (Abrams, £28.99)
Image credit © 2019 John Gurche

Gurche has a good eye for this kind of work, often using acrylic background tones to add some earthiness to give some unusual texture. You’re not looking at textbook art but pictures with feeling and creatures that could walk off the page. His attention to detail, especially to bones, which do require some patience to make a drawing come to life applies to all the illustrations. He really is a lesson in creating skin texture. I came away from this book wondering how Gurche would be in the traditional art world but I guess his other work would prevent that happening.

Lost Anatomies: The Evolution of the Human Form by John Gurche (Abrams, £28.99)
Image credit © 2019 John Gurche

In some respects, this could be regarded as a specialised book for archaeologists but if you’re wondering at how the bones would look when fleshed out then this book is a great introduction to this aspect of their work. As Trenton Holliday points out in his section of the book, breaking up limestone feels more like hard labour than looking for bones. You get a lot of insight into early hominids here and it touches on their culture, too, so you can get some insight into what finally led to our own species. It might even encourage some of you younger generation to take up an interest in archaeology.

Lost Anatomies: The Evolution of the Human Form by John Gurche (Abrams, £28.99)
Image credit © 2019 John Gurche

GF Willmetts

March 2019

(pub: Abrams Books. 207 page illustrated indexed large hardback. Price: £28.99 (UK), $40.00 (US), $50.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-4197-3448-9)

check out website: www.abramsandchronicles.co.uk

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Category: Books, Illustration

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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