Friday, September 2, 2016

Best Friends: Artists and Their Companions

Me with Juno in my studio.
Photo: R. Scurlock

When I work in my studio, I'm not usually alone. I have four cats, and two of them prefer to hang around when I'm in the studio.* It's welcome company. Creating is often solitary work. I have friends who have pets that accompany them in their studios also, which led me to wonder about other artists. I first thought about Hemingway and his cats and George Rodrigue and his Blue Dog work, and William Wegman and his Weimeraners, but after a quick Google search, I found a lot more. I'm going to share some of those people in this blog, but feel free to send me more or add your own!

Please note that I wanted to include pictures for each artist, but for the sake of space, I have linked the artists to pictures of them with their pets or images they painted of their pets.

Andy Warhol had a dachshund named Archie, who he took with him everywhere, including restaurants. I read that in interviews, if Warhol didn't want to answer a question, he would defer to Archie.

Frida Khalo, is not only one of my favorite artists, but an animal lover. She had birds, monkeys, hairless dogs, and a fawn. Some of her self-portraits feature her pets.

Frida and her fawn
Source: Internet

David Hockney unabashedly paints his dachshunds, Stanley and Boodgie and has a book of paintings and drawings called Dog Days featuring the pair.

Edward Munch as many people know was a troubled man and lived alone. He had several dogs that he took everywhere, including the movies.

Salvador Dali had several pets, one that is often noted is his ocelot, Babou. He famously led Babou around on a leash and stone-studded collar in public. He took the cat into a restaurant where a woman expressed concern, and it's said that he told her not to worry because, "it is a normal cat that painted over in a op art design."

Pablo Picasso loved dogs and his dachshund, Lump, became his best companion. Lump was known to eat from Picasso's hand and urinate on one of the artist's sculptures. Their relationship has been documented in Picasso & Lump by David Douglas Duncan.

Paul Klee, who drew and painted many cats, most notably Cat and Bird, had a beloved cat named Bimbo. When he was away from home, he would write to his wife just to ask about Bimbo.

Romere Bearden the painter and collage artist, loved cats and had many, including one named Gippo. He found Gippo in the woods and after some adjustment time, Gippo became at home in the studio.


Quick List--Writers and their pets

Flannery O'Connor's peacocks

Mark Twain's cats

William S. Borroughs' cats

T.S. Elliot, creator of the characters that inspired the Broadway show, Cats

Charles Dickens. I hesitated to include him, but he had a deaf cat named Bob who was devoted to Dickens. When Bob died, Dickens had one of Bob's fore legs and paw taxidermied to the handle of a letter opener. Some people think this was a way for him to have daily contact with Bob after his death. (Too morbid for me!) It is part of the New York Public Library collection of literary artifacts.


Bob the cat's paw letter opener.
Source: NYPL

For more information, look up the book, Artists and Their Cats by Alison Nastasi.


*Please note that some studios are not safe for pets and make sure that your companion is safe from fumes, accidentally eating something toxic, fire or other hot tools, sharp objects and other dangers. 

I hope you enjoyed this post! May all of your scores run true!
-paula