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Why Cats Paint — Reviews
Why Cats Paint — Reviews


Why Cats Paint book


Why Cats Paint was first published in America in July of 1994 and by September was beginning to appear on Best Seller lists across the country. To date it has been translated into German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch and Japanese and has already sold over half a million copies world-wide. It is available in both Paperback and Hardback.


"Cats have been dabbling in paint for centuries, but only recently have scholars begun to notice that the results can be genuine art. In Why Cats Paint: A Theory of Feline Aesthetics, Heather Busch and Burton Silver make assertions that many will find impossible to believe, yet to the committed cat lover this pioneering study explains so much."
— Washington Post, July 24th '94.


"About once every decade in the art world, a book emerges to galvanize our collective psyche and, in so doing, brilliantly encapsulates the culture, defining a generation of artists."
— ELLE (USA), August '94.


"Yes, cats can paint. The phenomenon has to do with territorial marking, acrylic paint smelling a little like cat pee and a lot of pet spare time."
— Newsweek, September '94.


"Comparisons with the work of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning are perhaps obvious, but less so, although no less striking, are the more adventurous feline installations reminiscent of the work of many of our more celebrated young contemporary artists. One example illustrated in the book demonstrates the 'clever use of negative space' in the eaten away arm of an old sofa. However, it is in their work with dead animals such as rodents that cats are exciting the most interest in the feline art world at the moment. All in all, a most welcome, if overdue, appreciation of a criminally neglected corner of our culture."
— LIFE, Australia, September '94


"This is a revolutionary book. Its historical overview, theoretical framework and photographic proof will disarm sceptics, many of them dog lovers, who refuse to acknowledge that cats can and do paint. "
— Nick Barnett, The Dominion (NZ), October '94


"Why Cats Paint, A Theory of Feline Aesthetics [which is] compiled by two New Zealand scholars and furnished with the usual academic apparatus of footnotes and not only an elegant summary of what little is known about this specialist but fascinating subject. It is also an impressive compilation of insights Ü illustrated by some extraordinary colour photographs of cats actually creating - into feline artistic techniques, aims and attitudes.
....The importance of this ground-breaking study will quickly become clear. It will convince the skeptical that not every seven-month-old kitten can do it, nor that every modernist cat is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. A few among them have, without the benefit of a training at Goldsmiths or the Slade, created work worthy of inclusion in the Scraatchi Collection or any exhibition at the Lisson or Anthony D'Offay Gallery. The evidence for this comes in the many riveting, full-colour reproductions in this book. A series of action photographs of Minnie the Abstract Expressionist is reminiscent of the historic sequence, first published in LIFE magazine in 1949, showing Jackson Pollock energetically engaged in a metaphorical dialogue with his materials.
....More daring still is Princess, described somewhat questionably as an Elemental Fragmentist. His Amongst The Pigeons (1988) has something of the spare, eloquent minimalism of Lucio Fontana....Tiger, a Spontaneous Reductionist, scorns all conventional methods. Having completed an entire triptych, he will then tear it down and, using the randomly produced marks remaining on the wall as his starting point, complete a second work by merely adding a few seemingly casual but nevertheless deliberate colouristic interventions.
....Perhaps the most impressive of them is the late Fritz Fischl, based in Los Angles and a leading member of the West Coast School. His Bad Cat (1991) consists of two venetian blinds gnawed and clawed at their edges to produce an irregular, negative form at the point where they meet. It makes a universally valid statement about the feelings of alienation and claustrophobia engendered by the modern, soulless and regimented environment. It is the best example of cat art I have so far seen. Had its author been British, it would surely have won him the Turner Prize - if only by a whisker."
Frank Whitford (former tutor in cultural history at the Royal College of Art, London), The Sunday Times, Sept 18th '94.


"From the very first page to the last, Why Cats Paint is impressive in its meticulous attention to detail, its scrupulous accuracy, its terminological exactitude, bringing art criticism to new and welcome levels."
Faith Gillespie, The Oldie, November '94


"With lush color photographs, scholarly diagrams and reference flecked prose, Why Cats Paint exposes the passion, complexity, angst and transcendence of feline art."
Boston Herald, September '94


"Not since Long's groundbreaking Feline Artistic Potential has a work so clearly and so meticulously detailed the significance of the growing body of cat art that ever more frequently graces the walls of museums around the world. With rare insight and an obvious affection for their subject, Busch and Silver examine the history, theory and practice of feline art...Why Cats Paint marks a deep addition to the sum of human knowledge and understanding of feline aesthetics. We can only hope that scholars in related fields“feline music, inner expression through movement, and religious meditation“take up the lead of Busch and Silver. The world would be a lesser place without a complete understanding of our feline companions."
Gordon Farrer, Country Style, Australia, February '95


"Traces the beginnings of feline artistic insight from Egyptian times through to the present day, and provides clear interpretations of individual works together with discussions of technique and motivation."
The Daily Observer, December '94


"It is a certainty that the work shown in this book was done by cats.They are seen at work. Having been a cat owner for years, it is obvious that had the authors simply dabbed the feline's paws in paint, the cats would have angrily strode to the nearest surface and scratched it off. They wouldn't have arranged it on walls, paper, canvas and even windows in such obvious patterns. Granted this is abstract in nature. Don't expect any portraits of George Washington or of a sunset. Do notice the striking use of color and stroke (OK they all seem to favour the same style and maybe they are marking their territory) but this art sells for up to $19,000. Not bad for a cat."
Ocala Star, October '94


"Why Cats Paint makes a thought provoking and thoroughly engrossing gift for the individual who likes to be astounded."
Atlanta Journal, December '94


"This book will fascinate all cat well as being an unprecedented photographic record of cat creativity, it also explains many aspects of cat behaviour for the first time. Why do cats sit for long periods in self-absorbed reflection? Why do they purr? What is happening to them when they suddenly rush madly about and why do they lie and look at things upside down? All these questions, and more, are answered within the very understandable context of art."
The Tasmanian Examiner, September '94


"Obviously the authors know their art history, and numerous illuminating parallels are drawn between artistic expression in these cats and that of the more famous human artists. We can all understand and appreciate art history better by studying this volume's analysis of feline creativity in relation to human accomplishment."
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, '94


"....traces the beginnings of feline artistic insight from Egyptian times through to the present day and provides clear interpretations of individual works while avoiding polemics and premature judgements. The result is a book that sets cat art in a coherent framework, yet permits the cats to speak for themselves. A must for the art cognoscente and those who know their cats."
L.A. Art Times, July '94


"Cat fanciers who are not interested in art or money will be fascinated by other revelations: couch-scratching and mouse baiting, for example, turn out to be legitimate means of artistic expression. The art critic John Russell Taylor was not impressed. 'This is cat favouritism,' he told me. 'Dogs paint as well but they tend to be more secretive about it Ü mine paints in a pastiche baroque style. It has been suggested that Rover should exhibit under a feline pseudonym in order to get on this bandwagon, but he will exhibit as a dog - or not at all.'"
Giles Coren, The Times, (London), September 12th '94


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