The bias of art depictions in science books
I am currently reading Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin by Stephen Jay Gould. Very fascinating, Gould’s love of his work makes this book so charming and engaging. In the first part, he writes about artwork that capture evolution of various species in books on the subject. Further in, he points out that these paintings promoted scenes that had facts “yanked out of context.” Scenes that neglect the larger picture of evolution in progress. He mentions artists such as Louis Figuier, Z. Burian, and Charles R. Knight as people guilty of not depicting life’s evolution in a truly factual light.
I am not surprised. Well, in truth I did feel surprise when I first read this. After all, how many paintings that I have come across where experts point out that patrons and artists took creative license while they create paintings and sculpture? Not to mention Roland Barthes pointing out that photography not revealing the whole truth. Maybe because, the paintings mentioned by Gould came in science, where the truth should have top priority over what looks nice.