12 November, 2015

Artists and their cats by Alison Nastasi

This is a small book which will appeal to you if you are interested in artists, or cats, or both.  In the introduction the author identifies some of the key traits of artists, and reflects that they are attributes that cats typically display.  Labels such as “nonconformist” and “aloof” are sometimes used to describe artists, and they certainly define cats too. Artists often have periods of intense work or creativity - mostly through the night when the rest of the population is asleep. Cats have similar habits. You can wake up to find a dead seagull in the sitting room. Both have “artistic temperaments”.

The artists cover a wide range of fields, nationalities, and periods. Andy Warhol had 25 cats all named ‘Sam’ and one ‘Blue Pussy’. Frida Kahlo who lived with a menagerie of animals, among them monkeys, a deer and hairless dogs and cats, and Salvador Dali who had an ocelot named Babou as a pet; it travelled extensively with him and had a great life. While in New York  Babou slept in an empty television set.

Then there is John Lennon & Yoko Ono, both of whom apparently adored cats. John’s first cat was called Elvis, then they discovered it was female. The photograph is of John & Yoko as we typically know them, except  John has a black cat in his arms.

Henri Matisse was another artist who loved cats, and he included some of them in his work (“Girl with a black cat”). Near the end of his life he lived with his pets at the Hotel Regina in Nice, where he continued to work from his bed.  The photograph shows him in this way, with a cat on the end of his bed.

This is an entertaining little book that is great to pick up and delve into, you find out many things about the artists.  We typically know them only from their work, but this shows another side to their lives and personalities.

Title: Artists and their cats
Author: Alison Nastasi

Recommended by Ana, Central Library

Ana enjoys reading and listening to music, travelling and many other things. She reads fiction, non-fiction and from genres, crime: the Scandinavian crime writers, Patricia Highsmith and some others.

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