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Why Paint Cats: The Ethics of Feline Aesthetics Paperback – August 8, 2002


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Frequently Bought Together

Why Paint Cats: The Ethics of Feline Aesthetics + Why Cats Paint: A Theory of Feline Aesthetics + Dancing with Cats: From the Creators of the International Best Seller Why Cats Paint
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (August 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580082718
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580082716
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 9.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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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Customer Reviews

The book I received was a mini book - maybe 4 x 6 - about post card size.
Barbara
I loved many of the painted cats - they were beautiful and elegant, and my cats might even like some of those paint jobs.
L. Dukes
You can't just look at one page, you are so captivated that before you know it you are through the whole book!
Geno

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 53 people found the following review helpful By P. ODonnell on September 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
I made the mistake of reading this book out on my deck, and I laughed out loud so often that the neighbors probably thought I finally lost it.
As with the best humor, the book is done with an absolutely straight face (well, except for the goofy portraits of the "artists" which beign each chapter). So straight, in fact, that I've seen at least two columnists who were taken in by it and reviewed it as a serious work.
The level of detail is amazing: not just in the cat photos (which are wonderful) but in footnotes ("Stace, P. Feline Kinetic Design as Installation ARt, 1999-2001 Journal of Applied Animal Aesthetics, Vol. VII, 2001), captions (a Santa-painted cat: "...she makes us painfully aware of the continuing unhealthy santaization of winter solstice symbolism with its stupefying illusion of male as dominant gift giver").
"Why Paint Cats" works on a lot of levels - as a skewering of art criticism, a gentle poke at cat lovers and Animal Rights activists, and best of all, as good, silly fun.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Magellan HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most entertaining art books I've seen. The text is well-written enough to fool most people, and the only way I knew it was a spoof was I've read my share of art criticism and art history, even though I'm a biologist by training, and I think I can detect when someone is making fun of the whole business.
Having figured out the text was a joke, it was only a hop, skip, and a jump to figuring out the cat paintings were probably fake and probably done on a computer. I'm not positive about this, since they look so realistic, but it seems likely. Also, it seems unlikely that any cat would sit still long enough to have such elaborate paintings done.
Furthermore, if that wasn't enough, the author states that some of the paintings were by well-known artists that cost as much as $7000 each--not very likely. (Also I've never heard of any of these artists).
Whether they're real or fake, the cat paintings are truly spectacular and are entertaining just by themselves. I note that a veterinarian in a previous review of this book said he saw his first "painted cat" recently, and he said that the cat had tried to lick off the paint and had ulcers on its tongue. This could be a jest also, but I suppose someone could have been taken in by the book too and actually tried to do one.
Well, I hope most people realize the whole book is very likely an elaborate joke and don't try to paint anymore cats if it can be harmful to them, but the book as just a book of remarkable cat "paintings" is quite entertaining.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By John Petherick on October 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
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This book is remarkable for the variety of reactions it elicits from people. I took it into the office last week and found that while some people couldn't stop laughing (as I did), others read it slowly, almost reverentially. A few even got mad that folks would paint their feline companions.
I think there's a big surprise factor in seeing the cats we're so familiar with suddenly transformed into something quite unexpected -- some are not even like cats any more, and it makes people react quite strongly.
Well worth a look, and a great read too. One of the funniest books I've read in while.
J Petherick CA
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By verbminx on December 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
I got this book for Christmas 2002. I'm an art student, so I appreciated the spot-on parodies of art criticism. However, I can also easily tell that these cats were "painted" in Photoshop or a similar image-manipulation program, using filters and processes that give a furry texture to painted areas. There is one photo I'm not certain about (a white cat with blue hearts), but in almost any other photo in the book, the digital processing is pretty obvious. The cats aren't physically painted... it's their photos that have been decorated, not their bodies.
I'm really alarmed by the concept that people aren't looking closely enough at the pictures to tell that they're normal cat photos that have been manipulated to look "painted." Some of them are really clever and enjoyable; I like the cat who has been given a curly moustache, the cat painted to look like an orange and blue carp, and the cat who has tribal "tattoos". Since this book does not, however, have a big sign on the front that says "THIS IS A PARODY" - and it should - please don't buy yourself a copy if you don't get the joke, and please don't buy it for anyone else who you think might take it seriously and try to paint their cat. It may sound like a cute idea, but you could really hurt your beloved pet... and who would want to do that?
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dynomoose on December 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As a person who has been painting her cats for years, I was delighted to see that this is widely accepted and practiced! My only complaint is the lack of information on safe dyes and paints for this use. I fear that some people might use toxic paints and dyes on their animals.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed Why Paint Cats- the photography and visual presentation is amazing. All the cats look beautiful! I have bought it for several friends and it really does make a wonderful gift- the perfect coffee table book!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
I think the PICTURES of the cats have been painted (or whatever word you want to use for it.) Why I think so - first of all, this is obviously a spoof, like the authors' other books. Secondly, I don't think cats would willingly submit to such elaborate art jobs - my cats wouldn't, I'm sure.
I gave a copy of this for Christmas to my sister-in-law's mother, and she liked it very much.
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