Taxidermy

DEFINITION

The craft or process of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins and other exterior parts of dead animals for exhibition in a lifelike state. A person who practices this craft is a taxidermist.Anything entirely natural is generally regarded as other than what we call art. There is no subject, however, more frequently chosen by artists than nature, excepting the human figure; itself a work of nature. There have been some examples of human remains placed on display. Excepting acts of extreme cruelty and war [often the same thing], parts of deceased humans are most likely to be exhibited for reasons of science or because they're prized as carnival oddities rather than for reasons of art. Taxidermy, therefor, brings up all sorts of ethical and legal questions, along with aesthetic ones, many having to do with the treatment of animals whose parts are used. Among such questions: In what conditions did the animal live and die? Did anyone cause it to suffer? If it was deliberately killed, did this endanger the species, or otherwise upset the ecosystem? Is this someone's attempt to transform this creature into a trophy? There are many other questions, the answers to which might be very disturbing. To be fair, some answers may be reassuring. An animal can die of natural causes, for instance; and the careful preservation of an animal's skin through taxidermy can bring viewers to an increased understanding of natural history, along with appreciation for a species' beauty, or ugliness, or its development of camouflage, or its various other qualities.Also see gyotaku, ivory, leather and fur, photorealism, tortoiseshell, and trompe l'oeil.

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