Although it is fairly clear that any notion of art
by animals is essentially anthropomorphic,
it starts to raise very interesting questions
about the nature of human art.
~ Will Tuck, Artist and Curator
Think it's tough now to make a living off your art? You might not know what competition is until you've suffered your art being put up against the paintings of elephants and such assorted primates as gorillas, chimps, and orang-utans.
Bakhari, Digit Master, 2011
St. Louis Zoo
The Grant Museum of Zoology at University College London (UCL) is presenting "Art by Animals", featuring, among the show's half-dozen works, a flowerpot painting by "Boon Mee", a Thai logging elephant; an untitled abstract by "Baka", a Sumatran orang-utan who lives at Colorado's Cheyenne Mountain Zoo; and Digit Master, by "Bakhari", a chimp at the St. Louis (Missouri) Zoo (see image above). The show, running through March 9, raises some serious questions, one of which is, as museum manager Jack Ashby succinctly states, "whether this is actually art." Perhaps, as is noted in this UCL write-up, Salvador Dali did say it best:
The hand of the chimpanzee is quasihuman;
the hand of Jackson Pollock is totally animal!
Here's an introduction to the show:
Slideshow of Images (Can you tell which animal produced which piece of art?)
What I'd like to know is this: Can I get a job writing these animals' artist statements? (Please do leave your own questions in my comments section.)
Also Of Interest
Rebecca Burton, "Art by Animals for Sale to Aid Zoo Research", The Miami Herald, January 30, 2012
Desmond Morris, "Can Jumbo Elephants Really Paint? Intrigued by Stories, Naturalist Desmond Morris Set Out to Find the Truth", MailOnline, February 22, 2009
Art by Animals Auction (Video)
Original Elephant Painting (Video)
Tillamook Cheddar, "The Most Successful Living Animal Painter", Brooklyn-Based Jack Russell Terrier (She is the subject of Portrait of the Dog as a Young Artist.)
UCL Museums and Collections Blog