COOL IMAGES: Postprimitive Impressionism

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Science  10 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5447, pp. 2039
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5447.2039a

This work, entitled “Dinosaur,” was painted by a gorilla named Michael who “ingeniously … simulated his [T. rex] toy's spikes” by pressing the canvas on the ground, according to The nonprofit site also showcases works by Koko, another lowland gorilla who gained fame in the early 1970s when her trainer, Stanford psychology grad student Francine Patterson, taught her hundreds of words in American sign language. Whether Koko and other signing apes are communicating or simply mimicking their trainers has always been controversial, but the topic of late has undergone a revival among scientists. You might smirk at the interpretations of the pair's art, but some of their paintings aren't bad. A bouquet of flowers looks a bit like blurry Impressionism; and if we can believe that Michael painted his dog Apple from memory—well, his choice of black and white is dead on.

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