Tag Archives: picasso

Your animal paintings are all wrong

Pax Arcana

dogPablo Picasso once said that art is the lie that tells the truth. He also said French chicks will screw anyone with a paint brush and a fancy grammaphone, but that’s beside the point.

The point is that artists sometimes get things wrong. And not on purpose, like the surrealists or whatever, but just because they don’t know which leg goes where when painting a dog or horse walking. Luckily we have some squirrely academic types to point this out for us:

After analyzing more than 300 depictions of walking animals in museums, veterinary books and toy models, the researchers report that in almost half of them the leg positions are wrong. The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.

The researchers studied only depictions where it could be determined unambiguously that the animal was walking, and not trotting or otherwise running, as in those gaits the leg movements may differ. (In walking, two or more legs are touching the ground at all times while in galloping, for example, there are moments when all the legs are lifted.)

The researchers found, for example, that a skeleton of a dog at a Finnish museum depicts the right hindleg in a rearward position while the right foreleg is lifted and moving forward. In a proper depiction the hindleg would be forward too, having moved before the foreleg.

It’s a good thing they didn’t interview any dogs for this story, since I happen to know that many of them are proud of their idiosyncratic walking styles. My Beagle — Hallgeir the King Slayer — busts into a sideways creep when approaching a female of the species. I call it his “pimp walk.”

In Lots of Animal Art, Wrong Foot Is Forward [NYT]

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