Still Life

Still Life

Adventures in Taxidermy

Book - 2010
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It's easy to dismiss taxidermy as a kitschy or morbid sideline, the realm of trophy fish and jackalopes or an anachronistic throwback to the dusty diorama. Yet theirs is a world of intrepid hunter-explorers, eccentric naturalists, and gifted museum artisans, all devoted to the paradoxical pursuit of creating the illusion of life.

Into this subculture of insanely passionate animal lovers ventures journalist Melissa Milgrom, whose journey stretches from the anachronistic family workshop of the last chief taxidermist for the American Museum of Natural History to the studio where an English sculptor, granddaughter of a surrealist artist, preserves the animals for Damien Hirst's most disturbing artworks. She wanders through Mr. Potter's Museum of Curiosities in the final days of its existence to watch dealers vie for preserved Victorian oddities, and visits the Smithsonian's offsite lab, where taxidermists transform zoo skins into vivacious beasts. She tags along with a Canadian bear trapper and former Roy Orbison impersonator--the three-time World Taxidermy Champion--as he resurrects an extinct Irish elk using DNA studies and Paleolithic cave art for reference; she even ultimately picks up a scalpel and stuffs her own squirrel. Transformed from a curious onlooker to an empathetic participant, Milgrom takes us deep into the world of taxidermy and reveals its uncanny appeal.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, c2010.
ISBN: 9780618405473
061840547X
Characteristics: 285 p. ; 22 cm.

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seki Jul 06, 2013

This is great book. The author takes the reader into the world of bringing dead animals back to life. Many people do not know about taxidermy due to it's decreasing use in natural history museums. It is getting a second life on competition shows and independent taxidermists promoting the art. And yes, it is art. The author meets up with Damien Hirst's taxidermists who shows.
After reading this book I wanted to scan through the pages and the source pages to sub read all the subjects and references that were used in the book. Excellent book.

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