Animals have always been popular subjects for artists to represent in their works, either as part of the environment or as primary subjects. The term animal painter was used up till 1900 for an artist who specializes in or is known for his/her skill in the portrayal of animals. During the last century “wildlife artist” became the preferred term for contemporary animal painters.
If we go back to the earliest drawings on the walls of caves, animals have been represented since ancient times as part of rituals and prey. Animal depiction has shifted schematically each century, in accordance with changing norms and increased wildlife awareness.
Explore how animals are seen from a contemporary standpoint this week in works made by ten contemporary artists.
Rat-King by Katharina Fritsch
Rat Graffiti by Banksy
Circle of animals/Zodiac Heads by Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei’s outdoor installation Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads(2011) recreates the traditional Chinese zodiac sculptures which once adorned the fountain of Yuanming Yuan, an imperial retreat in Beijing.
Sculptures of Paper Animals by Anna Wili-Highfield
A Sydney based artist, Highfield makes sculptures of animals created from archival cotton paper, that is painted, then sewn together, to create the figure of an animal.
Balloon Animals by Jeff Koons
‘Pixcell’ Deer by Kohei Nawa
Taxidermied animals have been revolutionized by Kohei Nawa’s use of variably sized “PixCell” beads, a term he invented. ‘Pix’ refers to “pixel” while ‘Cell’ retains its original meaning- creating a unique work of art.