Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Fat Cat Art: Famous Masterpieces Improved by a Ginger Cat with Attitude by Svetlana Petrova and Zarathustra the Cat

Classic art gets a face-lift and a huge dose of humor with the help of Photoshop and a big, twenty-two pound ginger cat in Fat Cat Art.  This book collects selections from the popular website of the same name.  Photoshopping a cat into works of art sounds gimmicky, but Svetlana Petrova and her cat muse, Zarathustra, make this combination work, and there is nothing gimmicky or amateurish about it.

With some books, readers can just dive in and flip around.  With this book, it pays off to read Petrova’s introduction and understand her process to better appreciate the work.  She writes with a distinct voice and speaks eloquently and succinctly about the popularity of cats in pop culture and how her Fat Cat Art taps into that but is also something more.  The process gets technical but is fascinating with photographing her cat in the pose she wants to insert into an art piece and then the careful process to fit the cat in.

Fat Cat Art's version of da Vinci's Mona Lisa
The book divides the art into chapters for different periods in art history, and each artwork includes a blurb in Zarathustra's voice about how the cat was supposed to be in each piece but was erased from history.  It serves to give some history and trivia about the art work itself, along with information about cats. Zaruthustra's speech has its own kind of cat speak, like using "mews" for muse and "arrt" for art, speaking with the royal "we," and spelling “cat” with a capital C. It makes the reading more entertaining and takes each picture beyond just an interesting novelty.  It is also a clever way of sneaking in art history, which is one of Petrova's stated purposes behind her Fat Cat Art, especially if people want to compare the original.
Fat Cat Art's version of Dali's The Persistence of Memory, or The Persistence of  Meowmory
Look for Fat Cat Art in the VBPL catalog.  For more cat, painting, and art aesthetics combinations, try Burton Silver’s Why Paint Cats and Heather Busch’s Why Cats Paint.  To learn more art history, try Art: A World History and Art: A Visual History by Robert Cumming.

Review by Tracy V.

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