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THE BIOLOGY OF ART by Desmond Morris


A Study of the Picture-Making Behaviour of the Great Apes and Its Relationship to Human Art

by Desmond Morris

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1962
Publisher: Knopf

Anyone want to know the aesthetic relationship between modern man and beast? Then read Desmond Morris' The Biology of an admittedly fragmentary, but often fascinating, sometimes fanciful investigation into the daub and drip world of ape and chimp, so charmingly close to the best of abstract art. Congo, the Pollock of the London Zoo, whose infra human picture making becomes Dr. Morris' star specimen, went the gamut of calligraphic growth from scribble types to diagram stage, even completing circles, using both right and left hand, primitive and intermediate grip, showing a marked preference for fan pattern motifs, whether twisted, stippled, spotted or, on occasion, just a central blob. The history covers the first animal-and-casel studies (Moscow 1913) to the latest (London ); Alexander, the likes the horizontal spurt, Baltimore Betsy delights in the finger fling, Russia's Peter caters to corner marking. Some pets have even reached the phase, the latest event in Parisian galleries; many, fulfilling the Bohemian law, prefer feeding the palette to the palate. Sans a smile, Dr. Morris sums up the rise and fall of representational art (for 1900 read 16 years old, for 1960 read 2) and lays down the creator's six simple principles, whether he be Leonardo or Congo. Illustrations, color plates, comparative statistics, physiological and psychological factors accent the . What will Mathieu, Dubuffet, and Rothko do now?