Why Paint Cats: The Ethics of Feline Aesthetics
The “Painted Cats” book is the origin of this saga. The book itself, it seems, “misleads” the reader into believing that the cats are really painted at high expense. And therefore painting cats is an idle pastime for the rich to amuse themselves and to make themselves stand out by having a unique looking pet. This was probably done as a form of art as one of the authors is an artist (see below).
The general consensus, however, is that painted cats are fakes thankfully. The majority say it is cruel while some don’t care and one or two say it is OK if the cat doesn’t mind it (the theory is that they like being groomed and therefore may like a form of painting provided the paint is not dangerous to the cat – ridiculous I think). It is impossible to paint a cat. You wouldn’t get past the first brush stroke or spray of paint before you got a reaction from the cat that stopped you. But some people (who don’t have cats) don’t know that.
The obvious trouble with this book is that having given the impression that the cats really were painted it then, it seems, gives no warning as to the dangers. Some readers of the book may be encouraged to paint their cat.
Also pictures of painted cats have been circulated on the internet by email and can be found on websites (including here, of course). On some of these sites there appears to be some confusion as to whether painted cats are real or not; and that it dangerous.
Some people who leave comments in the form of a blog say they like it and have painted their cat. They may be joking but it will further encourage some to believe that painted cats are real.
Heather Bush, is the named co-author of this best selling book (the photographer and illustrator) which is published by “tenspeed” and called “Why Paint Cats: The Ethics of Feline Aesthetics” (the other author is Burton Silver).
She is considered to be one of New Zealand’s leading artists. Interestingly, Heather Busch runs an art gallery, which exclusively displays “cat art”. I presume this to mean images etc. created by cats. I wonder if cats can create art? Cats don’t know what art is so how can it be art?
She claims or the reviewers state from some source that she is a member of the International Council for the Curation of Feline Art and president of the American Cat Art Verification Board from 1990 to 1992. Are these real or just part of the fiction that is painted cats i.e. the whole thing is a kind of fiction, the artist being the art
She has photographed people dancing with their cats (difficult! and how do the cats deal with that – more fiction – more photo shop? – I don’t know, do you?)
One thing seems to be certain Heather Busch is a successful artist.
Heather Busch is the curator of the Museum of Non Primate Art (MONPA) – click here to see what they say about her.
Click here to go to the Homepage of the museum of which Heather Busch is Curator (MONPA).
Interestingly, the authors produced another book called “Why Cats Paint?” and this it seems has caused further confusion.
As Heather Busch is an artist it seems to me that she probably wanted to create uncertainty about the authenticity of painted cats and so create a form of art with the uncertainty. She succeeded.
The publisher of book perpetuates the myth that the cats are actually painted (is this responsible behavior?).
They claim that painting cats is part of a new movement (big stuff) that encourages better understanding of cats (heavens – how can it do that?). They talk of the latest trends one of which is “retromingent expressionism” (now they are taking the mickey out of us all). These statements point to the fact that the publishers are having some fun but this was recognized by many readers.
They go on to claim that the book is well researched and that the book raises important ethical questions. It does raise ethical questions but the questions relate to the actions of the publisher and the authors not the fictional art movement.
However, what the publisher will say is that what they said was so transparently a fiction that we should have realized. Well, it wasn’t so obvious it seems.
Here are the book details:
ISBN: 1580084729ISBN-13: 9781580084727Publisher: Ten Speed PressFormat: HardcoverLanguage: EnglishDimensions (cm): 27.940 x 24.130Weight (kg): 0.361
It was published in Nov 2003. Price $44.95 Australian dollars and $11.53 (US dollars – Amazon).
My comment: This still reinforces the belief that painted cats are real.
|My conclusion: Painted cats is, it seems, still being promoted as real. Or at least the publishers or retailer indicate it is even though the text in the book seems to infer that the pictures are manipulated. Bottom line? – I don’t think it is right, really. It is about making money at the potential expense of vulnerable animals. And we see far too much of that all over the world. Correct me if you think I wrong. One last question. Is Heather Busch the “illustrator” in this book, meaning is she the person who has used Photoshop or some other graphic manipulation software to make the pictures of painted cats?
Update Nov. 2008 – I guess things have moved on and people really don’t care. Also gradually it has got around that the pictures are photo manipulations. So that kinda resolves that one.