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Animals have always inspired art
Thursday 31 May 2018

An article by Hannah Duguid on independent.co.uk - From cave paintings to cat videos: How animals have always inspired art - reports on the new exhibition at the Turner Contemporary which examines how humans, right from the beginning, depict animals, and our relationship with them.

Animals have always inspired art. Dabous giraffe petroglyphs in the Sahara

The Dabous giraffe petroglyphs in Niger are thought to be the largest prehistoric animal carvings in the world.

In 2009, the artist Cory Arcangel watched endless YouTube clips of cats playing the piano. Some cats sit upright like humans with their front paws bashing at the keys. Others creep across the keyboard as though they're stalking a mouse. A pair of kittens runs haphazardly playing out an erratic tune. 

Candida Hofer's photographs, such as 'Zoologischer Garten Paris II' (1997), reflect a heartbreaking ennui in once-wild animals captured for our benefit Candida Höfer/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS.

Arcangel edited the clips to play a composition by Arnold Schoenberg, early 20th century pioneer of atonal music. "It was an experiment to see if cats could make atonal music go viral, whether cats could make this happen," Arcangel says. "It was a very elaborate and complicated joke." The experiment worked, his video became popular, even appearing on blogs for cute animals as well as contemporary music mailing lists. 

Lions depicted in Chauvet, France

Lions depicted in Chauvet, France.

Cat memes are, of course, a very 21st century art form. But the human urge to make art about animals is almost as old as art itself. 

 
Article continues below
 

A new exhibition at Turner Contemporary in Margate, UK, explores artists' relationships with animals, from the very beginning up to the present day. The first known figurative drawing is of a deer.

Hind depicted in Altamira, Spain

A hind - a female deer - depicted in Altamira. Image: Museo de Altamira. Photo P. Saura.

Before this, for thousands of years, humans made imprints of their hands on cave walls. It is guessed that the first paint was probably animal blood.

In ancient civilisations, animals became symbolic, as we imbued them with meaning. Eight of the 12 signs of the Zodiac are animals. Animal figurines in ancient Egypt formed the basis for myths, that actually explored our own human psychology. 

Find more of the earliest depictions of animals from around the world on the Bradshaw Foundation website
http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/index.php

To read the full article:
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/animals-and-us-art-cat-videos-turner-contemporary-cory-arcangel-tracey-emin-margate-exhibiton-a8367896.html

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Cave Painting
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CAVE PAINTINGS
Charcoal drawings discovered near Brno
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 01 July 2019
Aurignacian dots of Chauvet
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 21 May 2019
Understanding the Great Murals of Baja California
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 14 May 2019
Discovery of figurative rock art in the Balkans
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 11 April 2019
New hand prints found in Altamira
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 08 February 2019
Art in caves
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 29 January 2019
How Art Began with Antony Gormley
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 24 January 2019
Christmas at the Cave of Pont d'Arc
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 10 December 2018
Hand stencils and their missing fingers
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 04 December 2018
Relating Ice Age art with astronomy
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 28 November 2018
Oldest known figurative cave art discovered in Borneo
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 08 November 2018
Baja California rock art film
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 27 September 2018
What & Why is Paleolithic Art?
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 12 September 2018
The Poisonwood Bible and the Rosetta Stone
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 10 August 2018
Whitley on Chauvet
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 01 August 2018
Powerful Images
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 30 July 2018
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