The Wall Street Journal
Friday, November 30, 2001

J.B.S. Haldane, the great British biologist, when asked what he’d learned about God  after studying His natural world for decades, replied that He must have had "an inordinate fondness for beetles." Actually Haldane may never have said that, but it is certainly true that beetle diversity is one of the wonders of life on Earth. So far, 350,000 species have been identified, 20% of all living species. And many of them are gorgeous.

If you doubt that, take a look at the season’s most beautiful and original illustrated book, "Living Jewels: The Natural Design of Beetles" by Poul Beckmann with Ruth Kaspin (Prestel, 111 pages, $39.95). Mr. Beckmann took the photographs of specimens he’s collected, gaudy beasties every one. Horns, spots, beaks, backs tricked out in spotted or mottled or iridescent splendor. To pick two: Rosenbergia straussi of Papua New Guinea has backswept horns longer than its wondrous body, with its leopardlike pattern of irregular black spots outlined in white and orange; Polybothris sumptuosa gemma is indeed a sumptuous metallic, opalescent jewel or, if you like, an abstract work of art in which a green layer shimmers over blue with a dappled sunlit clearing in the center of the thorax- a living, crawling Monet.
Raymond Sokolov
Sept/Oct, 2001

Meet the Beetles

There was a lot of excitement a couple years ago over the design of the New Beetle.
But what about the old beetle? Not the one built by Germans, but the one that was
crawling around long before cars, or, indeed Germans, existed.  Re-examining Mother
Nature's prototype is the book "Living Jewels: The Natural Design of Beetles"
(Prestel, 2001; $39.95; out in November), created by artists Poul Beckmann and
Ruth Kaspin, who have compiled an exquisite sampling of the gemlike creatures and
the unique, colored patterns displayed on their backs.

Considering that there are hundreds of thousands of beetle species, probably no
collection will ever be complete, the authors point out.  Still, from click beetles to weevil
beetles, long-horned beetles to shining leaf beetles, the 192 images found in Living
Jewels provide crisp, vibrant examples of the variety extant.  Ruth Kaspin's lucid intro-
duction delves into the mythology, historical significance, and decorative use of beetles
throughout the world, and the plates that follow demonstrate why their designs have long
been imitated.

Each page gives the reader an opportunity to examine one or two examples of the
creatures' spots, stripes, and Rorschach-like patterns in a range of colors, iridescent
sheens, and metallic lustres.  And several plates focus on detail, separating the insect
from its design--a valuable feature for anyone still squeamish about finding artistic
delight in, well, bugs.--JT
American Photo
January/February 2002

More of the Best
The season's most compelling books about photography

Living Jewels (Prestel, $40),by Poul Beckmann. Bug lovers will be all abuzz about this book of spectacular, full page photos of beetles and their kin. No blending in with bark
or leaf litter for these larger-than-life bugs: Sharp down to the last cilium, set against a stark white background, their colors and patterns pop off the page.
Russell Hart
New York Magazine
November 5, 2001

Best Bets

Beetle Mania - Bugs on your coffee table aren't necessarily a bad thing. The proof:
Living Jewels: The Natural Design of Beetles. The book has 108 critter pictures, all
shot on white backgrounds to emphasize the amazing colors
Rima Suqi
Florida International Magazine
Nov/Dec 2001

Beetle Mania:

Not cabochon cut or bezel mounted, these jewels are the stuff of entomologists' fantasies.  Ready for their close-ups, the 80-odd beetles profiled in Living Jewels-from rhinoceros to shining leaf long-horned to click- are resplendent in the book's  192 studio photographs.  With metallic wings, camouflage markings and fuzzy antennae, each is a gorgeous, grotesque specimen.  Ruth Kaspin's brief history of the bug-as-ornament starts 25,000 years ago, brings the reader up through the Victorian age, when ladies wore live beetles collared by miniature golden manacles, and into the 1990's when the insects were the pet of choice in Japan, some selling for nearly $20,000.  Photos by   Poul Beckmann, hardcover; Prestel; $39.95
The Houston Chronicle
December 02, 2001

Paul Beckmann's "Living Jewels: The Natural Design of Beetles" (Prestel, $39.95) is
one of the season's happiest marriages of science and art. What a revelation are these extravagantly colored specimens: the kelly green, yellow-dotted body of Stephanorrhina guttata, the Rosalia alpina's black patterns on blue background that bring to mind an abstract expressionist painting. Ruby red, metallic blue, magenta, orange and black,in configurations of stripes, chevrons, blotches and brushstrokes, adorn Beckman's specimens. Each beetle is photographed against a stark white background.
Yahoo Internet Life Magazine
February, 2002

New, Notable & Fun

Living Jewels, Paul Beckmann reinvents Beetlemania with his stunning photos of
the colorful insects. Click on any of the hard-to-pronounce critters for full-screen
body shots. We think they're natural works of art. If you agree, you can order books
and posters online.
Meaghan O'Neill
Virginian Pilot
Dec 12, 2001

The Daily Break

If you're like me, your immediate reaction to seeing a bug on the floor involves impromptu
Flamenco dancing and a sound too repulsive to mention.  But if those bugs resembled
the ones in "Living Jewels" (Prestel, $39.95) you might start thinking about them more as
fashion accessories than something to step on.  Poul Beckmann's photographs of
brilliantly colored and patterned beetles from all over the world, magnified to fill each
large page,
American Photo

On Set

Meet The Beetles; Full Color Feature Article.
Russell Hart
American Photo

Beetle Gems

Closeup; Full Color Feature Article.
Russell Hart

Book Review

I must say that this book for Prestel Publishing really caught my attention. It has to do with
the fact that the subject matter is far from the noral landscapes and flowers I tend to see
so very often and that is a big part of its charm.

This book contains some wonderful and amazing photos of Coleoptera, better known
to most of us as beetles. I know that may not sound very impressive but these are not
your average backyard bugs. Beckmann has chosen the divas of the insect world for
this title by photographing the most bizarre looking or colorful specimens artfully presented on a stark white background. While the images themselves don't contain
much written information about these interesting creatures there are detailed captions located at the back of the book.

If you would like to see some of the strange creations nature has to offer, pick up a copy
of this book today, It's sure to be the topic of conversation or it may inspire you to take
a closer look at the insects around your home.
C A Boylan
HOW Magazine

Behind The Design
What's New and Cool

Beautiful Bugs
Article on the design of Living Jewels Book.
Library Journal

Intended as a visual introduction to the beauty and diversity of beetles, this volume
is a photographic study of a small sampling of some of the world's most beautiful
insects. A seven-page introduction to beetle varieties, folklore, collecting, and how
we humans have regarded beetles over the centuries precedes the 79 full-color
plates. The photographs are striking in their much-larger-than-life portrayals of
beetle colors, patterns, textures, and body designs, and the solid white
backgrounds focus the reader's attention entirely on the insects themselves.
The authors are artists rather than entomologists and approach their subjects
accordingly. Photographer Beckmann is responsible for the eye-catching images,
and Kaspin, a painter, wrote the introduction. Both have been involved in jewelry
design, which helps explain their interest in these particular creatures. This book is
a good choice for art and design collections in public and academic libraries. For a
science-based yet very readable introduction to beetles with considerable text to
accompany the attractive color photography, see Arthur Evans & others' An
Inordinate Fondness for Beetles (LJ 4/15/97). William H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ.
Lib., Ames Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Photo Insider
March/April 2002

Book Review

Poul Beckmann:Living Jewels

Striking colors, patterns, and shapes dazzle the pages of Poul Beckmann's Living Jewels: The Natural Design of Beetles, a photographic exploration of the order Coleoptera, or the beetle.  Eighty-three stunning photographs present a small but beautiful sample of the great diversity of beetles, which comprise one in five living species on earth.   Beckmann's photographs transform each creature into a fashion object--an insect model carefully posed to display its unique body and lustrous splendor.

Die Welt
12-2-01 Berlin

Marvelous beauty

Elegant evolution: The virtuosen ornamentations on the tanks of the beetles

Of Ulf Poschardt
The realm of the animal world is frequently clarified, at least just as often turned into and taken rarely only seriously. The anthropozentrische conception of the world plans above all the work of humans and that of the animals -, post or subordinated. To dedicate the more largely the animals will, the more attention seems one to them - thousands of years after their disappearing still our sympathy applies for the enormous dinosaurs. But the smaller the organisms become, see the less one; more badly still: It rises the disgust ratio.
Insects are sold mostly as annoying, ugly troubles from dwelling such as garden. Their beauty remains ungewuerdigt. The beetle forms thereby mostly no exception even if one of the most popular cars is designated after it. The photographies of the Danish decoration designer Poul Beckmann suggest finding what immense spectrum at peculiar beauty under the 350,000 identified beetle Spezien are. The wasteful splendour of the nature expresses itself straight with the kinds, which got someone due to its kleinheit (up to 0,25 millimeters small) or their hidingness underground or in the low shade hardly to face. The discovery of that splendour lets the respect for the refined results of the evolution grow - and suggests, which destroys our wasteful life-style with its threat of habitats of everything.
"the attentive occupation with small objects", noticed the large beetle collecting tank Ernst Juenger 1965, "has in our time the inestimable advantage that the over-populated world again at silence, which shrinking planet at expansion wins. For that, which pursues a driving of the beetles, the map becomes larger. The Feldrain becomes the army route, the sand hill the Himalaya."
Nature as source of a "enzyklopaedischen vocabulary of the ornamentation", as it means in the introduction of the Beckmann book, places at Opulenz and Virtuositaet each form to humanly produced decoration into the shade. No miracle that color designers and engineers of all large companies try gebannt to copy the production ways of the schillernden Chitin tanks. No spaceship in a Science Fiction film looks in such a way hightech like the Phanaeus igneus floridanus (largely in the picture left). The Raffinesse of the colors and form variety of nature are uneingeholt.
That their tank gives protection to the beetles like decorating dress and - because of the missing skeleton - also a kind backbone, is of all mode crazy people shining example: The elegance of the animals in all their sumptuousness is thus nothing decade width units and superficial, but existenziell in each regard.
Poul Beckmann: Living Jewels, The Natural Design OF Beetles, Prestel publishing house.