Why Paint Cats: The Ethics of Feline Aesthetics

Burton Silver, Author, Heather Busch, Author, Heather Busch, Joint Author Ten Speed Press $18.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-58008-271-6
While the popular and enduring Why Cats Paint (1994) profiled the creative output of house pets, highlighting tabbies and Persian long-hairs with smeary abstract canvases they ostensibly made, the authors' latest volume inverts the paradigm, and offers instead the cat-as-canvas. Rexes and Siamese sport rainbow colors on their faces and flanks or graphic designs on their hindquarters: cats are transformed into butterflies, or clowns, or furry American flags. Presented as the document of a developing art movement, the book features a potpourri of artists and their ""schools"" (Neo-Totemism, Semiotic Anthropomorphism, Avant Funk), pairing big photographs with faux-interpretive essays about each cat and artist. Perhaps the most amazing entry is a portrait of Charlie Chaplin, supposedly painted with peroxide and vegetable dye on the rear end of a ginger and white cat named Burger. Amusing as a novelty item if nothing else (and very amusing at that), the book also offers a gentle kick in the pants to the gods of art criticism: a cat painted like a fish, for example, succeeds in ""redefining and blurring the relationship between fur and scale, fin and tail, in order to create a shared intent that transubstantiates the species and repositions the notion of symbiosis."" It's all so weird that it's sort of irresistible.
Reviewed on: 08/05/2002
Release date: 08/01/2002
Wall - 24 pages - 978-1-58008-699-8
Hardcover - 96 pages - 978-1-58008-472-7
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