A bit of art this week in book form, courtesy of the legendary Ralph Steadman and director Ceri Levy – Extinct Boids (2012). This full-scale book was adapted from an exhibition which Steadman worked on called Ghosts of Gone Birds. As such, it stands as an entertaining slice of history, as well as something of a statement for animal rights.
Most of you will likely know of Steadman’s work with the legendary gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. In books such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, his nightmarish, vivid, but humorous pictures added weight to Thompson’s words, much as with how Terry Gilliam’s stop motion animations illuminated Monty Python’s shows. With Steadman’s distinctive paintings, this is a colourful and marvellous book for anyone’s collection.
Extinct Boids consists of hundreds of paintings of extinct, endangered, or fictional birds which Steadman made up on a whim. The result’s as spectacular as you’d expect, based on the artist’s extensive history. Each bird has new life breathed into it, with some startling results.
Within the brief details provided about each bird, however, lies a story of human excess. Many times you’ll come across an extinct bird and quickly discovered the reason behind this was human intervention – the dodo (featured on the front cover) is perhaps the most notable example of this.
With this in mind, the book is funny and silly, but it does have an important message to part with. Time and time again the story for a species reads as follows: humans landed on an obscure island, discovered new species of bird, began consuming them, and didn’t stop until there weren’t any left. It’s a sad reminder, then, that these animals are no longer with us.
You’ll find around 100 pictures altogether, each with a tale to tell (even if some of them are fabricated), and all of them sprinkled liberally with Steadman’s trademark quirky sense of humour. As such, it’s suitable for young and old alike – always quite the achievement when one can cross generations through creativity.
This isn’t a book we can ramble on about for long. It’s simply one, if you’re interested, to pick up, look through, enjoy, and put on your bookshelf with pride. You can check the Ralph Steadman Art Collection for more images, or purchase the thing and share it with family and friends.
That’s what we did with Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but we never received the book back from the friend. This is why we haven’t reviewed it on our Book of da Week section yet – annoying, huh? Moral of the story – humans can be jerks. Not Ralph Steadman, however. He’s awesome. Awesome to the max.