Art + Design

Artists <3 Cats

The artist and the cat are two oft-mythologized figures. My new book Artists and Their Cats touches upon the human (and feline) side of that special relationship, offering an alternative view into each artist’s personality and work.

As a full-time writer and artist who usually works alone in the studio, there is an unspoken bond I share with my two cats. They are my silent partners, helping me navigate the space between my thoughts and my work. (I seem to inspire them to take naps on my laptop and tiptoe across delicate artworks.)

Artists and their Cats_AgnesVarda

This unique collaboration is evident in the photo of artist and filmmaker Agnès Varda, shown here with her late cat Zgougou. She was the queen of Varda’s production studio Ciné-Tamaris (just as Varda is the queen of New Wave cinema), popping up during interviews and in the artist’s films (such as The Gleaners & I).

Artists and their Cats_JohnCage

Avant-garde artist and composer John Cage kept a family of cats at his home shared with partner Merce Cunningham, the famed choreographer. Losa, a former street-tough Tomcat with a slight limp, had a larger-than-life personality and always made his presence known with a few playful bites to the ankles. Whenever the cat dads were filming something in loft, Losa was there mugging for the cameras. Laura Kuhn, the executive director of the John Cage Trust, speaks warmly of Cage’s affection for all his cats.

Artists and their Cats_SalvadorDali

 Varda and Cage’s photos symbolize the intimate side of feline friendship. But photographs of Salvador Dalí and his ocelot Babou reveal the eccentricities we often apply to artistic personalities. Babou accompanied Dalí during his many outings, attracting a crowd. The surrealist maestro took full advantage of his status to offer Babou the finer things in life, including luxury cruises and a seat next to his table when he dined out.

Artists and Their Cats offers a look at these kittenly kinships and the various unexpected ways artists and cats complement one another.

Alison Nastasi

Alison Nastasi

Alison Nastasi is a journalist and the author of Artists and Their Cats and Writers and Their Cats. She lives in Los Angeles.
Alison Nastasi

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