Lines and Colors art blog

Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney at Stamford Museum

Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney at Stamford Museum
James Gurney has become widely known for his instructional books and videos as well as his role as a plein air painter, lecturer and popular blogger, but it was his series of fantastic Dinotopia adventure picture books that originally attracted the most notice — in the art community, the paleo art community and among the dedicated readers who came to love the books.

In the Dinotopia series, Gurney brings to bear his study of classical artists and techniques — and in particular, late 19th century academic art — to create a world in which dinosaurs and humans co-exist amid architectural and natural splendor.

Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney is an exhibit of over 50 original paintings from the series, along with maquettes, models and related material, currently on display at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center in Stamford, CT.

You can read a post from Gurney’s blog about the exhibit, which runs until May 25, 2015.

Gurney points out that this exhibit is completely different from the one that was at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in CT a few years ago, but I think it is similar in scope and contents to the Dinotopia exhibits at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2013, and the one I had the pleasure of seeing at the Delaware Art Museum in 2010. If so, I can vouch for it as a terrific show, one of broader interest than you might think. Gurney’s influences and technique transcend the genres of paleo and fantasy art, and encompass classical art in many ways.

As far as I know, there isn’t a gallery of works specifically from the exhibition, but you can see Dinotopia art in general on the Dinotopia website, James Gurney’s website, and his blog, Gurney Journey.


6 responses to “Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney at Stamford Museum”

  1. Oh isn’t this sensational. What I love about this is the reverence articulated among man and beast. The respect and class emulated makes me feel hopeful. Positive! Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Thank, Bernard. That’s one of the fun aspects of the Dinotopia stories.

  2. jetson joe Avatar
    jetson joe

    kinda nice art…kinda boring…for me…as well…technically brilliant…but tired of all of the fantasy monsters, etc…cannot even play video games anymore…all of this silliness…for me that is…for me. Okay…but you really should see this stuff in person…he is really quite a genius. And his books are pretty good. And if you get a chance..take a class with him…as he will share his heart and soul and work hard to give you as much as he can. He really is one of a kind….but for me..his work is …meh…

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, joe.

      Thousands of people, myself included, might be surprised to hear Gurney’s work described as boring. To someone like me, it’s anything but — I love paleo art, fantasy art, academic art, Hudson River School and plein air landscapes — so just about every influence Gurney brings to bear is right up my alley. But then, preference in art styles is always a personal thing.

      It is my hope that visitors to Lines and Colors who focus on one genre of art and come in seeking that, may find surprises of interest in work I present from other genres that they may have ignored. Gurney, in particular, is an example of a single artist whose work crosses many boundaries. I can understand, however, how some might not appreciate the fantasy component. I do certainly agree that his work is best appreciated in person, much of it is of a different scale and more rich in surface variation than might be expected from only seeing it in reproductions.

  3. Although I have never had the opportunity to see his work in person I would also point out that much of his genius is how fully realized his world of Dinotopia is in its creation. From reading his blog and visiting his website to thinking back on the TV series there is that sense James left no stone unturned and reveled in its creation, really living it as he invented it from his imagination.
    He did this entirely on his own and not as part a team and if I am not mistaken I think he mentioned somewhere on his blog he did it over several years while still earning his living as an illustrator, working on it in his spare time while raising a family with his wife.
    That would be the brilliance of it.

    1. One of the aspects of the Dinotopia books that always struck me, and that I took great delight in, is the sheer inventiveness Gurney brought to the series. Not only did he create a world in which to place his adventures, and populate it with characters, he designed all manner of mechanical devices, structures, armor and architecture (including Waterfall City, the look of which was rather shamelessly “borrowed” in the Star Wars prequels).