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Why Paint Cats: The Ethics of Feline Aesthetics [Paperback]

Burton Silver , Heather Busch
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 23.99
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Book Description

Aug. 8 2002
Why did a woman in California pay an artist $5,000 to paint her cat to look like a pig? What made a New York stockbroker spend even more than that to have the image of Charlie Chaplin painted on his cat'¬?s posterior? WHY PAINT CATS reveals that, far from being an amusement for the idle rich, this seemingly aberrant behavior is part of a new art movement that claims to promote a better understanding of the cats in our lives. Following the international success of their previous collaboration of feline aesthetics, WHY CATS PAINT, Burton Silver and Heather Busch turn their scholarly attention to the cat as canvas. The authors detail all the latest trends in the movement, including the highly controversial Retromingent Expressionism, drawing conclusions that will provoke and amuse, startle, and enlighten. Exhaustively researched and lavishly illustrated, this insightful and engaging book raises important ethical questions and explores the rights of pet owners to reinvent their cats in the name of art.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

While the popular and enduring Why Cats Paint (1994) profiled the creative output of house pets, highlighting tabbies and Persian long-hairs with smeary abstract canvases they ostensibly made, the authors' latest volume inverts the paradigm, and offers instead the cat-as-canvas. Rexes and Siamese sport rainbow colors on their faces and flanks or graphic designs on their hindquarters: cats are transformed into butterflies, or clowns, or furry American flags. Presented as the document of a developing art movement, the book features a potpourri of artists and their "schools" (Neo-Totemism, Semiotic Anthropomorphism, Avant Funk), pairing big photographs with faux-interpretive essays about each cat and artist. Perhaps the most amazing entry is a portrait of Charlie Chaplin, supposedly painted with peroxide and vegetable dye on the rear end of a ginger and white cat named Burger. Amusing as a novelty item if nothing else (and very amusing at that), the book also offers a gentle kick in the pants to the gods of art criticism: a cat painted like a fish, for example, succeeds in "redefining and blurring the relationship between fur and scale, fin and tail, in order to create a shared intent that transubstantiates the species and repositions the notion of symbiosis." It's all so weird that it's sort of irresistible.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“You'¬?d think a person would have better things to do with $5,000 than to have her cat painted to look like a pig. . . . I personally appreciate feline beauty without a brush, but for the person who has every art book, my bet is they don'¬?t have one showcasing cats as canvases.” — Atlanta Journal-Constitution “I would not paint a cat if someone paid me to do so. I would not paint a cat if Picasso rose from the grave and taught me how. If a cat represented the last piece of canvas on earth, I still would not paint that cat. I just know better. Sadly some people do not. . . . I'¬?m pretty sure it'¬?s not a hoax.” — Jackson Clarion-Ledger“Suggests itself both as art and an art. Who am I to kibble?” — San Francisco Chronicle“Painted cats transform into art with a purrpuss.”— Las Vegas Review Journal“By the time you finish flipping through WHY PAINT CATS, the latest art-book collaboration by writer Burton Silver and photographer Heather Busch, you'¬?ll have more questions than answers. Seeing Charlie Chaplin'¬?s face painted on a cat’s rump has that effect.”—Heather McKinnon, Seattle Times“It felt wrong. I was appalled. Then I began to flip through the book, and was knocked back on my heels by the beauty of (some) of the works of art. A question I'¬?d never considered nestled in my brain:
Why not paint cats?”—San Diego Union Tribune “Kitty Porn . . . What a little tramp! . . . Always wanted to paint your cat like an alien but never had the balls to try?”—Maxim magazine

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Kate Bishop's bold kinetic vignettes rely on their transient and unexpected nature for effect. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep this book away from children! Feb. 16 2004
Format:Paperback
With a couple of minor reservations, I recommend this book as an excellent introduction to the subject of cat-painting. While the text is a little over-serious at times, the superb full-page photos make the book well worth its price. In fact I know of no other book which so lavishly illustrates so many different styles of this specialized art form. However, in some ways the book could be deleterious to the cat-painting fraternity by over-popularizing this rather arcane subject and encouraging ill-equipped amateurs to try their hands; definitely keep this book away from children.
As a veterinarian, I am concerned that the authors did not place enough emphasis on the use of special non-toxic dyes and bleaches. Paint in the conventional sense should never be used and could definitely prove harmful, partly because of the cat's grooming habits, partly because cats are especially susceptible to the toxic effects of paint-removers like turpentine. Even the low-toxicity paints sold for use by children should be avoided.
A little more history of the subject would be welcome; perhaps this is planned for a second edition. As so often with the cat fancy, no mention is made of the dog-world. [Supposedly, the original inspiration for cat-painting came from those dalmatian breeders who paint extra spots on their dogs before shows.]
Highly recommended!
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By T.P.
Format:Paperback
My wife and I borrowed a copy of this book from her friend. Since then, we have bought our own copy, and FOUR of our friends have purchased the book after seeing ours! What beautiful photography and wonderful designs. This book, for most people, is a MUST HAVE!
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By icemom
Format:Paperback
I saw this book at my daughter's guitar lesson studio. I picked it up and just couldn't stop looking at the pictures. Who the heck would do this to their beloved pet--even a cat? Some are just plain WRONG--those with the painted rear ends and the sexy bustieres.
What's amazing about this book is that the authors treat the subject matter in a very straight way--they cover it as ART. It makes it even more funny.
I bought this book as a gift for a cat lover and she is crazy about it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and Edgy Sept. 6 2003
Format:Paperback
Warning: This book is not for people who take themselves (or anything else) too seriously.
I love "Why Paint Cats." The photography and concepts are incredibly well executed and clever. The commentary and 'interviews' are the best part of the work, poking fun at everyone involved, especially art critics (fortunately). The authors have the stuffy self-importance of the critical world down perfectly, right down to the 'references', for example: "The artist's depiction of a green-eyed purple cat as a metaphor for monster...draws a clear parallel between the socially noxious effects of television and the environmentally destructive consequences of feline-avian conflict in the urban context," - D. Koplos, The Green-Eyed One-Tailed Spying Purple Parrot Eater. L.A. Art Times, 2001.
The work is startlingly original and can be read on several levels. I heartily recommend it in every way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Coffee Table Book Sept. 6 2003
By Geno
Format:Paperback
This is a great coffee table book. The cover draws you to it because you are wondering "Why does that cat look like a butterfly?" Then you open it and there are cats that look like pianos, clowns, fish, you name it! This is a fun book to look at. We have lent this book to so many people. At first they are like "no way" but then they look at it and have to borrow it. You can't just look at one page, you are so captivated that before you know it you are through the whole book! This is definitely a fun book to own, or at least borrow from someone. I recommend it along with "Why Cats Paint" by the same author. This is fun, even for cat lovers (the painting isn't cruel and it doesn't hurt the cats). I really recommend this book! ENJOY!!!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Why Paint Cats Aug. 13 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I absolutely loved the book. However, I bought two books as a gift for a couple of my cat loving friends. I got the feeling that they didn't look as favorably on the subject matter as I did.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly cute book Aug. 3 2003
By P. Was
Format:Paperback
I got this as a gift for a friend, but I did look at it before I gave it away, and the only problem with it is that it's not long enough. More pictures are needed of the painted cats, but it is a very cute book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant! July 9 2003
Format:Hardcover
If Christopher Guest dove into book writing and concepting I'm not sure that even his brilliance could touch the amazing, hysterically funny work contained within these pages. With so many touchy feely works on pets and art, this one is a refreshing work that manages to come across as both parody and respect. I love cats but I also love irony and satire: exactly the elements that Guest so deftly blends in his movies.
I cower at the utter absurdity and genius of abstract art in general and this rare little gem of a book.
Bravo!!!
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