Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Hipster Taxidermy

Taxidermy is suddenly cool. Shiny-eyed animals are peering out from the windows of shops and the walls of bars and restaurants. Read more about this surprising Victorian design trend.

Hipster Taxidermy

Taxidermy is in high style. If you’re interested in learning more, try picking up one of the books mentioned in Elyssa East's recent article:

Kingdom Under Glass: A Tale of Obsession, Adventure, and One Man's Quest to Preserve the World's Great Animals

by Jay Kirk

From the publisher: “A sweeping historical narrative of the life of Carl Akeley, the famed explorer and taxidermist who changed the way Americans viewed the conservation of the natural world. During the golden age of safaris in the early twentieth century, one man set out to preserve Africa's great beasts. In this epic account of an extraordinary life lived during remarkable times, Jay Kirk follows the adventures of the brooding genius who revolutionized taxidermy and created the famed African Hall we visit today at New York's Museum of Natural History. The Gilded Age was drawing to a close, and with it came the realization that men may have hunted certain species into oblivion. Renowned taxidermist Carl Akeley joined the hunters rushing to Africa, where he risked death time and again as he stalked animals for his dioramas and hobnobbed with outsized personalities of the era such as Theodore Roosevelt and P. T. Barnum. In a tale of art, science, courage, and romance, Jay Kirk resurrects a legend and illuminates a fateful turning point when Americans had to decide whether to save nature, to destroy it, or to just stare at it under glass."

Read an excerpt and an interview with the author at pbs.org or check out the book (newly released in paperback) on Amazon.

Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy

by Melissa Milgrom

Publisher’s Weekly writes: “Starred Review. In this absorbing blend of bright-eyed reportage and hands-on participation, journalist Milgrom demystifies the creepy art of bringing dead creatures back to life and dispels the myth that taxidermists merely stuff animals. The author's quest to understand the compulsion of obsessed hobbyists and exacting scientists alike to duplicate what nature has created starts in a New Jersey family workshop, where three generations—including the last chief taxidermist for the American Museum of Natural History—have mounted everything from three-toed sloths to fireflies… Though her own squeamish attempts to preserve a squirrel are less than stellar, Milgrom's initial uneasy curiosity blossoms into genuine appreciation for a true art form, an enthusiasm the author imparts with style in this substantial study.”

Check out the book on Amazon or visit the author’s website and see some photos from the book.

Some more stuff around the web:

Photo courtesy of msnbc.com

British design firm Chameleon Visual teamed with visual artist Billie Achilleos to create taxidermy “animals” out of Louis Vuitton logo-printed leather for an anniversary event at legendary Paris taxidermy shop Deyrolle. Check out Achilleos’ website for a video of her making leather animals.

The blog Trendhunter writes of the event: “The exhibit opened as if it were a zany fashion zoo for French onlookers to ogle and appreciate the genuine leather goods.”

South Philly resident Beth Beverly of Diamond Tooth Taxidermy was recently profiled in the Daily News. Beverly practices rogue taxidermy, a nascent craft that uses standard practices to create crazy mixed-up animals that Beverly describes as "unusual, twisty things."

Here's a video of Beth:

 

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Latest news and reviews from Philadelphia's vibrant art scene.

Meredith Broussard Inquirer Staff Writer
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