High on our holiday gift list is the sublime 'picture book' called Pancha Terra by artist Walton Ford. If you aren't already familiar with his awesome and massive watercolors, check out these images for a quick glimpse. His work always suggests that nature (and human nature) is bigger, wilder, funnier and more powerful than we want to acknowledge. Or as one critic put it: It's Audubon-on-Viagra.
But Ford isn't simply reporting scenes from the animal kingdom. Taschen, the book's publisher, describes his work like this:
At first glance, Walton Ford’s large-scale, highly-detailed watercolors of animals may recall the prints of 19th century illustrators John James Audubon and Edward Lear, and others of the colonial era.These amazing (and disturbing) watercolors are often life-size, with a hyper-real quality that's not for the faint-of-heart. These images are from Pancha Terra. Check out other fantastic images in book here and at a slideshow from the Paul Kasmin Gallery.
But a closer look reveals a complex and disturbingly anthropomorphic universe, full of symbols, sly jokes, and allusions to the 'operatic' nature of traditional natural history themes.
Taschen has issued Pancha Terra as a gorgeous, $1,800 collector's edition which is limited to 1,500 individually numbered copies signed by Walton Ford. They also publish a version with large color-plates that capture the details of his massive images at a far more affordable price. (Thank you, Taschen!)