If you've been following my blog lately, you know that I love animals and enjoy painting portraits of pets. I am sad to say I am currently pet-less. While I'm enjoying a new-found sense of freedom, I have to say I often miss that furry companionship.
Over the years, I've had many cats (Aladdin, Jane Jetson, Moonbeam, Beatrice, Munchkin, Midnight Sun, Echo and Wanda) and one dog named Banjai (Chinese for "half-price"), a black-and-white Pekingese who lived to be 14 years old.
Echo and Wanda were my most recent companions. They behaved like little dogs, greeting me at the door, following me around the house, and talking to me. They especially loved it when I spent time in my art studio, where they would roost either at my feet or on my painting table where they could watch the action. I think they sensed that I was both calm and energized by my creative activities and they liked sharing in those experiences with me. I often felt they were my best critics!
All these thoughts about my former pets and art studios got me thinking. I wondered how many other artists have their dogs or cats by their side when they are creating? I searched the internet to see if I could find a listing of famous artists and their pets. Turns out, there are a lot of sources on this theme. I'd like to share a few of these wonderful photos, and will try to give credit to the photographers and resources as best I can.
Georgia O'Keeffe loved animals. Her first pet was a cat, followed by a black French poodle who lived to be only 2 years old. After moving to New Mexico, she fell in love with Chows, and owned six of them during her lifetime.
Georgia loved the company her beautiful Chows provided, and even slept with them in her bedroom at night. A nice article about her life with her pets (with a bunch of additional photos) can be found here.
Salvador Dali was such a crazy guy. His surrealist art was quite the sensation, and with his quirky and eccentric personality, his choice of pet...an ocelot named Babou...is not too surprising! Dali enjoyed shocking people with his strange behavior, and often took Babou out with him when attending events. "Dalí acquired his ocelot in the 1960s (allegedly from the Colombian Head of State), and for a time it was seen to accompany him, on a leash and stone studded collar, almost everywhere he went. One of the most popular accounts of Dalí and Babou is that of the painter bringing the wild cat into a Manhattan restaurant and tethering it to his table, causing great alarm to a fellow diner." A great article about Dali and Babou can be found here.
Andy Warhol had cats as pets until the 1970s , when his boyfriend suggested they get a Dachshund. They named the puppy Archie. "Warhol became so enthralled with Archie that he became his alter ego. As he held Archie during interviews, when Warhol did not want to answer a particular question, he would simply deflect the questions to Archie. Warhol took the dog everywhere – to his studio, to art openings, to dinner, to photo shoots, and to London when his work took him there." ( From Pop Art Pet Unleashed, http://popartpet.com/blog/2007/08/20/andy-warhols-pets/)
David Hockney is an amazing contemporary artist who has produced tons of artwork, from paintings, large-scale photo collages, and computer art to theater set designs and much more. Some of his most charmng sketches are those of his beloved Dachshunds, Stanley and Boodgie. The color photo above was taken in his LA studio in front of a wall of his doggie paintings. The black and white photo is a self portrait and is such a sweet testament to his love for his little pals. I love that both of these photos were taken in Hockney's art studio! There's a wonderful article from 1995 that talks about his Dachshund paintings when they first came out: click here.
Pablo Picasso was also a dog lover. His first dogs were Afghans, but his most famous pet was a Dachshund named Lump. There is even a book about Picasso and Lump written by David Douglas Duncan, Lump's original owner, and it is still available (try Amazon). Lump was very dear to Picasso, who took him on his daily rounds about town. Lump was the top dog in the Villa La Californie, Picasso’s hillside mansion in Cannes, and he is immortalized in many of Picasso's acclaimed works of art.
"The Mexican painter surrounded herself with animals: her household menagerie included macaws, monkeys, Mexican hairless dogs and an eagle called Gertrudis Caca Blanca. This photo – taken by Kahlo’s long-time lover Nickolas Muray in the 1930s, during their ten-year affair – shows the artist with her pet fawn Granizo. Many of Kahlo’s self-portraits feature animals, and they became surrogates for the children she was unable to have after a bus accident in Mexico City left her with serious injuries at the age of 18." (Nickolas Muray Photo Archives) Quote from: http://art-sheep.com/artists-and-their-pets-2/
Though I love Klimt's work, I have to confess I don't know anything about his cat! But I've always loved this photo...it's just so sweet! While doing some research, I found out there's a children's book on this topic. Written by Bérénice Capatti and available on Amazon, the book is called Klimt and His Cat and tells a story about "Katze, the loyal cat of Gustav Klimt".
Henri Matise is one of my all-time favorite painters. I never knew he had cats and was excited to find a website called The Great Cat (The Cat in History, Art and Literature) that features many photos of the artist with his pets. Here's a little blurb from that article: "Matisse was attached to his cats Minouche and Coussi, as well as his black cat la Puce (the Flea) whom he fed pieces of brioche in the mornings."
As Matisse got older, he continued to create magnificent artwork, often working from his bed. This photo of him with two of his kitties really touches my heart! To read the article that I found about Matisse with lots of photos and his paintings that feature his feline friends, click here.
Do you have a pet at your feet while you are creating or working? Feel free to share below!