Charles E. Buckley’s birthday card for March Lion the cat, March 24, 1950 (Archives of American Art)
Expressive or aloof, affectionate or enigmatic, cats have complicated characters that make them compelling artists' muses. Mary Savig, curator of manuscripts at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, explores these quirky and charming relationships in her book, Artful Cats.
Drawing on the volume, she discusses a range of fascinating images in which creators such as Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Louise Nevelson, Marcel Breuer, Yves Tanguy, Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Weston, Robert Indiana, Judy Chicago, Berenice Abbott, and Romare Bearden show off their artful cats, which appear as companions, inspirations, instigators, and often regents of the home or studio.
The images, as well as and other materials culled from the archive's extensive holdings from the 19th century through today, complement Savig’s celebration of our enduring fascination, love, and bemusement with our feline familiars.
After the presentation, stick around for some snacks and cat-themed crafts. And be sure take home your own artist-inspired enamel cat pin.
Artful Cats: Discoveries from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art (Princeton Architectural Press) is available for sale and signing.