Monsters: A Bestiary of Devils, Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Magical Creatures [Paperback]
Being a fan of the classic early century art, I was pleasantly surprised when a book arrived primarily focusing on the monsters, demons, dragons and ghouls of the early centuries. Author Christopher Dell who holds a passion for art history set out to collect and narrate some of the finest examples of early monster art ever created. From all walks of artistic mediums comes this great color filled book featuring wall to wall illustrations by various artists over our history.
The art is meant to convey a sense of how people viewed things and considered element of darkness thru the ages. Many may look familiar, others will be new experiences of classic paranoia and folklore. Christopher introduces each chapter with a bit of historical summarizing that conveys the tone of the collected art. With several cultures and several religions, it is most interesting to find the way darkness is translated in how the cultures of yesterday dealt with there fears and nightmares. Several demon interpretations litter the book with a surreal tone of chaos unleashed from the eyes of artistic minds. Satan and other demons are illustrated with varying degrees of interpretative horrors. And as the illustrations progress, so does the increased frequency for interweaving animal parts and distortions.
Whether it was painted, sculpted, mosaic, drawn, carved, chiseled or hammered into wood , a common nature is apparent within each cultural exploration of the same ideas. Dell, explains a few variations of angels and demons that held varying ranks with in the shadow realms. Other translations include names such as Beelzebub, Pazuzu and Kappa and Djinn. Each somewhat related as a different monster of power that was believed to be the ruler of the dark side.
Dragons and water monsters also appear through out the ages as man was still exploring various interpretations of what they came across in there travels. Most noticeably are sea creatures who we call by common names today embellished in artwork thru the tales of traveling fishermen. Each art piece is rendered beautifully with rich photographs of the originals.
What might also stroke a chord that I felt while viewing, is a sense of darkness that is hard to place but comes naturally from viewing ancient mediums that focus on devils and prophetic visions of hell from artists of that time. Still to this day, I get the creeps when looking at some of Bosch’s almost too eerie for words pieces that illustrate the suffering of the damned with hybrids and abominations.
This edition is quite a unique collection of art that should be on every historian of horror’s shelf. Whether you like to read or just enjoy a great picture book,”Monsters” provides a healthy dose of each to satisfy your curiosity. Even with the number of bestiary book on the market, none really tackles as much of these classic art renderings as “Monsters” does. Hard to put down and hard to get out of your head….history holds some captivating monsters, and so does Christopher Dell’s collection.