Taxidermy Gone Wild

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Art takes many forms and uses a variety of media. A skilled artist can make a thing of beauty out of any available material, including dead animals. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and many beginners think they are a skilled artists. That's why we have a range of "art" that includes not only masterful results, but also bizarre artifacts from our nightmares and other objects we just can't figure out at all. Among taxidermy projects on the internet, you'll find all three.

Sam Sanfiliipo owns a funeral home in Madison, Wisconsin. As a distraction for mourners (and a gallery for his work), he set up a collection of dioramas in the basement of the funeral home featuring stuffed squirrels engaging in various activities, such as the rodeo here. See more pictures in a Flickr set. Image by Flickr user Garth Johnson.

Artist and animal activist Angela Singer uses existing stuffed animals as a platform for artworks that make a statement. The juxtaposition of a dead animal with the addition of flowers, jewels, and other doodads only highlights the violence of the animal's demise. See more examples at her website and Facebook page.

New Zealand sculptor Lisa Black modifies existing mounted animals as well, with the addition of steampunk accessories. These she calls "fixed" animals, as if they were broken and then mended with mechanical prostheses. Pictured is her Fixed Fawn, a part of the fixed mammal series.

Walter Potter created bizarre but artful dioramas of everyday life illustrated with dead animals throughout the latter half of the 19th century. The Kitten Wedding, shown here, is one of his last and most popular works. His extensive collection was auctioned off to various buyers in 2003.

Ulrika Good, who brought the Lion of Gripsholm Castle to our attention, points out a Facebook group called Dårligt udstoppede dyr, dedicated to badly stuffed animals. This impossibly leaping deer is part of the collection.

Crappy Taxidermy collects submitted pictures of taxidermy gone wrong -or in this case, intentionally bizarre. This "bird-legged swamp cat" was spotted for sale at eBay.

Terrible Taxidermy features photographs Chris Ham took at the Church of the Virgen de Aqua on a trip Banos, Ecuador in which he was particularly struck by poor rendering of wildlife.

At the web magazine Fish With JD, a section is reserved for photos of "taxidermy gone bad." My favorite is a sturgeon head watching over diners in a restaurant. Note the inaccessible electrical outlet in the ceiling.

Last year, Brewdog specialty beer outlet offered a limited edition of 12 beer bottles covered with stuffed animals. The End of History was a super strong beer bottled inside seven stoats, four squirrels, and one hare. The bottles sold for £500 each. Brewdog founder James Watt said,

"I can think of no grander way to celebrate these animals than for them to be cherished by the lucky owners.

"The animals used to bottle The End Of History all died of natural causes - better to be celebrated and valued than left to rot."

Mad Taxidermy is a fairly new personal Tumblr blog in which most of the posts are illustrated with a humorous picture of bizarre taxidermy that has little or nothing to do with the post content. An example is this fantastic patched-together creature that was sold years ago on eBay, but became a classic illustration of strange taxidermy.

A Livejournal community called WTF Taxidermy has links, discussions, and photographs of strange taxidermy going back years. This oddly-posed wildcat was spotted on eBay.

There is a peculiar art form in the field of novel taxidermy called assquatch, or  "deer butt aliens" if you want to be more genteel. The example you see here is from the private collection of Don Burleson, who will explain to you how they are made, although even reading about the process is not recommended for sensitive souls.

These sites barely scratch the surface of strange taxidermy, but they can keep you busy for quite some time if you have the interest (and the stomach) for it.

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April 26, 2011 - 6:13am
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