Monday, August 13, 2007

The Cat in Art

Well, since yesterday was devoted to rats, it seems only reasonable to devote today's post to cats. And the theme of 'rat=bad, cat=good' seems to be reinforced when comparing the two books. Whereas yesterday's book (Rat: how the world's most notorious rodent clawed its way to the top) focused on human abhorrence of rats, today's book - The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi - shows the loving and respectful way in which cats are usually viewed. From the Greeks and Egyptians to Picasso and Warhol, cats have frequently appeared in the background of paintings, tapestries and mosaics. Zuffi goes through the chronology of the cat in art, showing how human attitudes towards cats have shifted slightly over time. Revered by the Egyptians as a goddess, cats become a representative of the Devil to medieval Christians, a symbol of sensuality, and finally a token of warmth and familial affection. Zuffi restricts his gaze primarily to Western art, unfortunately, but there are certainly a multitude of images to pore over. So, whether you are an art lover or a cat lover (or both!), this is a wonderful book to explore.

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