VARIATIONS on the Dialectic between Mingus and Pithecanthropus erectus

A book project by artist Lynn Sures that ties together the discovery of early hominid Pithecanthropus erectus with the music of Charles Mingus

Based on Charles Mingus’s musical work, “Pithecanthropus erectus,” images and words weave the music’s story together with the factual tale of the discovery of early hominid Pithecanthropus erectus. In the symbolism of Mingus, Pithecanthropus erectus represents the accomplishments but also the tragic self-satisfaction of the dominant hominid.

Best viewed with the musical track below:


Pithecanthropus, a traveler from an antique land
Gave trunkless legs of stone, fossils of thigh bone
Strewn in the turbid River . . . Near them, on the sand
A shattered skull appeared, without frown,
Or wrinkled lip; its brown sheen of cold command,
Tell that earthly forces well his frailty knew,
Which yet survives, as a lifeless thing, and
Mocks us with life’s promise, our offspring’s child;
And on prehistoric pedestal, the lasting fragments say:
My name is Pithecanthropus, Human Being, now and always,
Look on all the realms my mind and legs command!
The River passes slowly, rends bony remains
From its bare banks, and laps relentless at our feet,
Their lone heir by the water stretched far away.

Artist Book by Lynn Sures
Handmade paper, pulp painting, woodcuts and watermarks by the artist
Text by Rick Potts
2005, Edition of 55 and 5 artist’s proofs
10.5” x 7.5” x 0.5” Closed; 10.5”x 60” Open