In 2014, Humble Arts Foundation produced an online exhibition of art photography featuring the internet’s favorite animal, the cat. The show set out to explore the “academically ‘legit’ role that cats have played in contemporary art photography’s recent past,” writes Jon Feinstein in the introduction to the long-awaited book that expands on the show. To that end, Humble Cats: New Cats in Art Photography, published today by Humble Arts Foundation and Yoffy Press, collects more than 70 images from contemporary photographers around the world who use cats as models and muses, as symbols, protagonists and props in images that might sometimes pass for click-bait if they didn’t have more serious aims. Some come from cat-focused projects, such as Alexandra Crockett’s portrait series “Metal Cats,” which pictured musicians at home with their pets and addresses “pre-conceptions of masculinity in heavy metal culture,” Feinstein writes. Arne Svenson’s series “Strays” poses kittens against brightly patterned backgrounds as they turn away from the camera, making images that frustrate the desire to see their cute little faces and perhaps “encourage viewers to re-consider the lives we often overlook,” Feinstein writes. But for many artists in the book, cats are incidental characters playing cameos in larger projects. The long-haired grey cat that leaps across a room in Geoffrey Ellis’s image is from a larger series about Las Vegas. In her work, Marina Caneve explores natural catastrophes and manmade systems, and occasionally include animals, such as the cat in her untitled image who sits on the roofline of a house framed by mountains.
Together, book set out to understand the special power that cat pictures have online and in social media, and provide “an opportunity for the high and low brow to join hands and embrace the fluidity of our feline friends.”
From Tabby to Fabby
From Assistant to Photographer: Shaina Fishman, Pet Whisperer (for PDN subscribers; login required)