In art, as on the Internet, there is only one rule that matters: One cannot have too many cats. This is a fact made plain by the most catastic art show to grace the year 2014 thus far, the upcoming Cat Art Show Los Angeles. L.A.’s first cat-inspired art show will feature 77 artists including Shepard Fairey and Tracey Emin.
“I wanted to capitalize on the cat love that’s spread far and wide on the Internet as of late,” curator Susan Michals (whose email avatar is, obviously, a cat) tells Co.Design. Her goals were a little more lofty than just viral fame, though. “When I tell people I’m doing an art show about cats, many have said ‘I love cats but I know nothing about art,'” she says. “I think this is an opportunity to change that notion.”
The show presented an chance to expose as many new people to art as possible. After all, it’s hard to imagine saying, no, I’d rather not look at a bunch of paintings of kitties, even if a contemporary art gallery isn’t your automatic Saturday afternoon hotspot. As it turned out, it also ended up exposing a bunch of artists to cats. Or at least the idea of cats as a muse. (Unlike “The Cat Show” that debuted in New York this summer, the focus here isn’t on adopting actual live cats.) Michals, an art journalist, reached out to artists she’d met or admired, many of whom weren’t even cat people, or were allergic to cats, but agreed to create something cat-themed anyway.
The appeal of the feline, as the show posits, goes beyond the role of furry friend:
Aloof one moment and adoring the next, their behavior alone is a constant source of artistic fodder destined for reinterpretation. Then there is their adroit physicality; be it lounging languorously across our still unread newspaper, or their instinctive predatory sensibilities.
Perhaps this is why cats have served as inspiration for artists from Balthus to Picasso to Manet. And now, the feline form is being further validated as a way to introduce new art to the masses. As if cats needed the ego boost.
If the L.A. incarnation of the Cat Art Show proves successful, Michals says she may try to expand to other cities. For now, the show will run for two weekends, Jan. 25-26 and Feb. 1-2. All the art is for sale, and part of the proceeds will go to the Stray Cat Alliance of Los Angeles. Details here.