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Morris, Miro, and python, 1964.

DESMOND MORRIS
We are not fallen angels. We are risen apes.

 

 Visit the new official Desmond Morris Homepage.

 See Hybrid Vigour: A tribute to the art of Desmond Morris,
Stephen Arthur's animated film of Morris' surrealist paintings, 1994.

 More Desmond Morris paintings here.

"Desmond Morris has an international reputation as author, broadcaster and zoologist. He is best known for his pioneering work on human behaviour, which was first brought to the public's notice with the publication, in 1967, of the enormously popular and, according to some, shocking book The Naked Ape. Over twelve million copies have been sold throughout the world and it has been translated into most languages. More than a quarter of a century later the highly acclaimed BBC television series The Human Animal has been a testimony to the enduring appeal of Morris's original view that human beings can justifiably be regarded and studied as just one of the many animal species.

"Morris's reputation as a scientist and television presenter has, however, overshadowed another, equally passionate facet of his life's work. What is less known about him is that from the age of sixteen he has been a committed and practising Surrealist painter. In no way inhibited by his academic success as a zoologist and his celebrity status as a writer and television personality, he has made, since the 1940s, a steadfast and significant contribution to the Surrealist movement in Britain."

-- Silvano Levy, Desmond Morris: 50 Years of Surrealism, 1997

"Desmond Morris transforms the amorphous biological life-forms of the microscope and transposes their imagery into a jittery choreography of androgynous misfits that scratch and tease at the very fabric of reason and logic. By resolving the conflict between mental emancipation and logical control, he becomes inextricable from the great uncharted dream-world of Surrealism, which evokes all that is possible from an impossible world. Morris takes us on an amorous adventure between the obsessions of Hieronymus Bosch and the black humour of Ubu Roi."

-- Conroy Maddox, 1966.

"The pleasant irony is that the more fully a man gives himself up to totally irrational thought processes during parts of his working life, the more brutally objective and lucid he can be at other times. It is as if one half of the brain writes poetry and the other half dictates business letters, and if one half is ignored it becomes restless and fouls up the other. If they are both allowed to function fully, they both benefit...

"So, to become personal, an objective scientist who paints pictures in a highly subjective manner can find himself, mentally, in an attractive position. By giving his subjective fantasies full expression in paint, be can then be unrestrainedly and remorselessly objective in his scientific work. If he looks at human behaviour, he can see it for what it is, the complex activity of a large, naked-skinned mammal, rather than as the puppet-show of some heavenly puppeteer. And the more pellucid his objective vision becomes, the more darkly imaginative can become his moments of subjectivity."

"...Perhaps the time will come when we will give up the folly of separating sub-adults into the imaginitive and the analytical -- artists or scientists -- and encourage them to be both at once."

-- Desmond Morris, 1974

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