Artists and their Animals

Animals have been an inspiration for all types of artists since the dawn of man and the first cave paintings. Beloved pets, mythical creatures and famed beasts have continued to aid creativity with their beauty, strength, companionship, and humour. Here are some examples of artist and animal relationships and the work the animals have inspired.

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist and activist who creates conceptual art that combines art with the political, in an often-oppressive society. The artist has even spent time in prison in 2011 for alleged tax evasion and continues to speak out against oppression by the Chinese government. At his home in China, Ai has over 40 cats and several dogs and draws much of his creativity from his love of these animals.

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Henri Cartier-Bresson

For more than thirty years, this French photographer worked as a photojournalist for Life magazine and other publications. Bresson has the enviable reputation of being the master of street photography and the father of modern photojournalism. He adored cats and as an anarchist in philosophy, believed that cats were the very embodiment of anarchism as being against authority and discipline. Bronze Animal Sculptures are a popular form of artwork, displaying the beautiful lines and character of horses, for example. Bronze animal sculptures by Gill Parker are a perfect example of animals inspiring art.

Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock was a huge name in the abstract expressionist movement, best known for his unusual “drip painting”. He died at the age of 44, after being an alcoholic for many years, eventually dying in a drink drive accident. He was an avid dog lover and whilst growing up had a beloved pet named Gyp. In later life, he and his wife adopted another dog and named it after his childhood pet.

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David Hockney

Based in London, David Hockney was an influential member of the 1960s ‘Pop Art’ scene. He was involved in creating paintings, prints, designing sets and worked as a photographer. Apparently, he has the ability to see colours when music is played. Even in his older years, Hockney is still an active artist, as he has been since the swinging sixties. He is inspired by his love for his daschunds called Stanley and Boogie, of whom he has produced many portraits. for almost 60 years.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a hugely influential Mexican painter, famed for her self-portraits. She suffered many tragic events such as contracting polio as a child, experiencing a bus crash as a teenager causing her many serious life-threatening injuries and preventing her from future child-bearing. Art seemed to provide a creative outlet for Kahlo to express her ups and downs and she found great solace in her animals. They included chickens, macaws, parakeets, dogs, parrots, numerous monkeys, beloved deer and an eagle. Her work is classed as folk art, surrealism and feminist but Kahlo always claimed her work just came from whatever passed through her head, her own personal reality.