Monday, 9 February 2015

mid-century melee

Credits, starting at the back & coming forward: Grey patterned fabric (1953) by Lucienne Day. Black & white frame (1952) from fabrics by Maharam. Sofa fabric (mid-1930s) and sofa itself (at some later date) by Josef Frank for Svenska Tenn.

The two leaping dryptosaurs were painted (1897: see sig in lower right corner) by Charles R. Knight after meeting with the famed paleontologist E. D. Cope. (Knight was only 23! Did you know that images of dinosaurs this convincing were being made in the 19th century? I sure didn't.) As for their behavior, I don't have any young dinos running around my house, but I do have a pair of 9-month-old oriental shorthair kittens: the positions of those dinos are exactly the way my young carnivores look when they're engaged in play fighting and foreplay.

Drawing of Dinoland from a brochure for the 1964 World's Fair. Knight died in 1953, so he didn't get to see his dream come true, but he made all the clay models that would eventually be cast in hollow resin for the popular exhibit. His partner was passionate about the project and carried it to fruition.

Charles R. Knight was by far the most influential dinosaur artist of the 20th century. I won't list all the animators and movies inspired by his designs: just look at all of them that have dinos in motion (like the original "King Kong").

And the "mid-century" white lighting fixtures by are by Le Klint. (You may know of the later "bubble lamps" by George Nelson.)

What does mid-century modern design (MCM) have to do with dinosaurs? The timing! The time on this planet when people (adults, even) were most obsessed with dinosaurs was not, as many think, when the movie "Jurassic Park" came out. It was the 1950s through the mid-1960s. And also if you look closely at those lamps and compare them to the ridge on the back of the upper dryptosaur's neck, there may have been some visual borrowing as well.

If you'd like to know more about MCM, I recommend Mid-Century Modern Complete by Dominic Bradbury. If you'd like to know more about Knight, I recommend Charles R. Knight: The Artist Who Saw Through Time by Richard Milner.


  1. Wow, da muß man ne ganze Weile gucken, bis man alles erfasst hat.
    Mit Dinos habe ich auch schon einige Collagen gemacht - macht immer wieder Spaß!
    barbara bee

  2. Yes, what she said! Terrific eye popping stuff!

  3. A lot to see on your collage - especially playing dinos on the sofa! And thanks for all the infos!

  4. What energy! Informative and dramatic collage with tons of eye appeal!