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Re: REHEATING THE "PALEOARTIST" DEBATE
It strikes me that what is going on here is a form of "semantic reducio
ad absurdum" which misses what I have always understood to be the real
point which is: what scientific background does a given artist bring to
By, forgive me, bickering about what to call that, the emotional issue
Some commercial artists paint dinosaurs and other such creatures using
models the same way any commercial artist would paint cereal boxes or
nekkid wimmin, but other artists take the time to learn anatomy and
paleontology and bring a form of scientific reconstruction and
"speculation" to their work.
The "illustrators" are clueless to a greater or lesser extent about that
latter part, but they make a living, and some of them are skilled
What might be more fruitful is to talk about what to call the PAINTING
itself, rather than the PAINTER. eg... A painting could be an
"illustration of a dinosaur drawn from a model" or it could be a
"reconstruction based upon fossil data" Those are two different things,
and perhaps that might be clearer.
We don't get quite so bent about drawings of Superman, do we? I mean...
they don't all have to look like Christopher Reeve do they? Would there
be a conversation about calling someone a "superartist?"
Jeepers, aren't there better things to worry about?
Brian Franczak wrote:
> I've been away for the last couple of weeks and am just catching up on
> my email. Sorry if this subject seems a bit moldy, but I felt a need to
> respond to the last post.
> Considering Rich Penney's comments in support of the (IMO ludicrous)
> term "paleoartist" to be unfounded, I did what any good researcher does
> and consulted with an authority. Rob Kyff teaches English in West
> Hartford, Connecticut, and writes a regular column about words and
> language for The Hartford Courant. When I presented both my comments and
> Mr. Penney's to him, here's what he had to say...
> > Thanks for your question about "paleoartist" and I apologize for the >
> > delay in responding. Boy, you guys sure looked at this one from > every
> > angle! I don't think "paleoartist," while cute, is a good term > to use.
> > Here's why: It could cause confusion. Because "paleo" does > indeed mean
> > "ancient," it would be logical to call the people who > first painted
> > (such as those who did the French cave paintings) > "paleoartists,"
> > though I've never heard the term. Why pick a term to > describe people who
> > draw dinosaurs that might be confused with > another group of artists?
> It goes beyond mere confusion, however. Re: Mr. Penney's observation, a
> biologist is someone who studies life; it logically follows that a
> *paleobiologist* is someone who studies *ancient* life. By the strict
> Webster's definition, an artist is "a person who is skilled in the fine
> arts, esp. in painting, sculpture, etc."; a "paleoartist", therefore,
> would be "a person who is skilled in the *ancient* fine arts". Again,
> what exactly does this mean? IMO, nothing; it is still a nonsense word.
> Of course, I don't necessarily expect anyone to agree with me. If Mr.
> Penney or anyone else chooses to continue to call themselves a
> "paleoartist", hey, more power to 'em. To take this subject *too*
> seriously would be ridiculous. But I'm as interested in words and
> language as I am in dinosaurs, and I just felt compelled to let loose
> one last shot.
> This is, after all, just my opinion, and of course I could be wrong.
> Brian Franczak
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