“Long before Willis O’Brien, myself, and Steven Spielberg, Charles R. Knight put flesh on creatures that no human had ever seen.” – Ray Harryhausen – Film Director; One Million Years B.C.
Released this March from Abrams is the biography of esteemed wildlife artist Charles R. Knight (1874-1953). Written by award-winning author Richard Milner (also editor of National History Magazine and regular contributor to television documentaries) this is a definitive collection of work from an artist whose animal studies and prehistoric creations have formed the way that future creatives, scientists and filmmakers view a previously unimagined world. An intimate biography of Knight, telling of his struggle with near-blindness caused by a childhood accident which was later worsened by the advance of cataracts and detached retina. Milner also collects personal letters that build the profile of a man showing blasé attitudes toward the ‘business’ of art and his own personal finances along with strongly held views on the new crop of modern artists. But above all an absolute dedication for producing the finest and most scientifically accurate work attainable.
Knights sketches, paintings and sculptures consistently display a highly studied artistic technique, developed on visits to various inner city zoos (himself born in Brooklyn) and working on commissions such as those for patrons of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Detailed pencil studies of muscle and bone structure observed during dissection of museum specimens that later informed his approach to illustrating dinosaurs and other forms of prehistoric life, most of which were produced in collaboration with pioneering paleontologists. A lasting legacy that can be seen throughout modern literature with film with directors such as Ray Harryhausen (One million Years B.C.) and Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park) crediting Knight for his influence.
The 180 pages are filed with an extremely high standard of work backed up with details about Knight’s working life and process which make for a fascinating read. In many ways a history lesson in itself, but also a comprehensive profile of an accomplished artist.
Charles R. Knight – The Artist Who Saw Through Time by Richard Milner
Hardback 180 pages
29.8 x 26.7 x 2.5 cm