For a long time, animals have been very closely associated with people. People began to express their attitude towards their four-legged friends and enemies through art. This genre is called Animalistic. It is considered the oldest genre in history. After all, barely our ancestors learned to draw, they began to scrape images of animals on the walls of caves. An example of this is the Lascaux cave in France. Therefore, animalistic can safely be considered the ancestor of all other genres in painting.
The heyday of primitive art came in the late Paleolithic era (35-10 thousand years ago). Ancient people depicted the animals they hunted and those they were afraid of. They scraped images on the rocks and learned to make them multi-colored. On the walls of ancient caves you can see images of bison, horses, boars made of ochre, coal and hematite. People painted these pictures in an effort to systematize life and the environment, to pass on experience and knowledge to their descendants and to pay tribute to nature. Often animals were painted in much more detail than humans.
In later art of ancient Egypt, India and Mesopotamia, animals were depicted in the form of deities. Some animals were considered sacred in these countries: for example, the Cow, the Elephant, the Snake, the Cat, the Falcon, the Ram. Pictures of deified animals appeared on ancient tombs, jewelry and cult objects.
The interest in animals in art was extremely high at all times, up to the Renaissance, in which people were brought to the fore. Although, even in the era of classicism, animals were often depicted on frescoes, mosaics and vases.
Animalistic in Painting
One of the first representatives of the animalistic genre in art is Chinese artist Yuanji (about 1000 – about 1064), famous for his image of monkeys. A few centuries later, he was followed by the Chinese Emperor Xuande of the Ming Dynasty (1398-1435), who painted monkeys and dogs as a hobby.
During the Renaissance, Baroque, Classicism, Romanticism and subsequent styles, animalism was no longer the dominant genre. Nevertheless, many artists specialized in drawing animals. During the Renaissance period, the animalistic genre began to take on a modern look. Animals began to be drawn in detail, artists tried to draw them as plausible as possible, emphasizing their beauty: silky fur or bright color.
In Renaissance Europe, one of the greatest representatives of the Northern Renaissance Albrecht Dürer developed the animalistic genre. While everybody was busy with religion, Dürer was actively studying the animal world. Paintings of famous artists of that time did not often deviate from the accepted norms of painting, but even on the paintings of Leonardo and Raphael, although rarely, still appear animals and birds.
Very outstanding and famous artist and animalist is the Flemish Baroque painter Frans Snyders (1579-1657). He is famous for his still lifes with magnificent hunting trophies.
Animals also appear in the works of contemporary artists. For example, the legendary Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali very often turned to the theme of animals in his works, which opened up an endless space for his irrepressible imagination.
Animalistic in sculpture.
The images of animals in the sculpture are very popular around the world. Bright examples are “Capitol Wolf”, “Braunschweig Lion”, “Bronze Horseman” and “Berlin Bear” – sculptures of animals often become symbols of cities and historical events.
French artist Antoine Louis Bari, who created in the era of romanticism, stands out, especially among sculptors-animalists. He was an unusually talented sculptor, who studied animal anatomy and plasticity in detail. According to him, the image of an animal in motion requires extreme observation, because anatomy alone is not enough. Each animal has its own habits, plasticity and manner of movement, which must be caught to make the image as natural as possible.
One of the first representatives of animalism in painting is a Chinese artist I. Yuanji, who created in the early XI century. He was famous for his unique images of monkeys in scenes permeated with the style of the East. Emperor Xuande of the Ming dynasty continued his ideas. Painting monkeys and dogs were his favorite pastime.
The famous German Albrecht Dürer, who created in the Renaissance, left numerous watercolors and lithographs, quite realistically transmitting images of animals. The Flemish Frantz Snyders is truly an outstanding animalist. His still-lifes with hunting trophies are real masterpieces, decorating numerous galleries and exhibition halls in Europe. One of the most popular paintings by the artist is “Deer Hunting”, as well as “Fox and Cat”.
Animalistic painting in the modern world is very close to the art of photography. Subtle skills and great love for living beings are required to create such masterpieces.
The dog named Man
Pierre Huig created islands of another reality inside the well-groomed baroque park in German Kassel, in its center, there is a woman’s statue with a beehive instead of a head, and two dogs roam around it on mud and building garbage. One of them, named Man, is an albino with a bright pink front leg.
The art group “Where Dogs Run”
The project was implemented with the support of the UV SCCI and the Center for Support and Development of Contemporary Art “ZAART”. The image was provided by the authors
In the installation of the group “Where Dogs Run”, the mouse runs through a maze, at each intersection choosing where to turn. However, at the moment of the turn, a virtual projection appears, which continues to move along the route rejected by the live mouse until they collide.
MARTA DE MENEZES
The butterfly’s wings are asymmetric, one of them is the way all individuals of its species are born, the other was changed by the artist Marta de Menezes in collaboration with biologist Paul Breakfield to a drawing that never happens in nature.
The room decorated by Celeste Bursier-Mougenaud flies with zebra amidines, the only perch for them are electric guitars included in the network, so the birds sing and simultaneously accompany themselves on their instruments.
Hayden Fowler is locked in the same cage as the living wolf. The artist has on his head virtual reality glasses, in which he observes the natural landscapes. However, he does not see the real wolf at a stone’s throw from himself.
Spectators are closed in a dark room in front of the screen. The frame voice tells the story of creatures that appeared 670 million years ago and are likely to survive many other species. It is all about a successful strategy.
Paola Pivi’s performance in the Kunsthalle Basel was represented by a leopard, who walked around the room and flipped the imitations of three thousand coffee cups. The artist regularly places live animals in a surrealistic context, for example, in another work she bathed a crocodile in whipped cream.
Dead animals in contemporary art
The large-scale exhibition of Damien Hirst, which opened on April 9th in Venice, began with a campaign of animal protectors. Activists of 100% Animalistic group dumped 40 kg of manure in front of the entrance to the Palazzo Grassi and left a poster with the inscription: “Damien Hirst, go home! This is my work of art”, reported the Artnet News portal.
Flemish artist Jan Fabre is the grandson of the famous French entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre. As a child, his grandfather often took the boy to the zoo, where he painted animals and insects, which later became one of the main themes of his work. In addition, they turned into one of Fabre’s working materials. In 2002, Queen Paola of Belgium asked the artist to integrate contemporary art into the interior design of the palace. Thus appeared “Sky of admiration”, one of the masterpieces of Jan Faber. He faced the ceiling and one of the ancient chandeliers in the Mirror Room of the Royal Palace, using almost 1.5 million shells of scarab beetles. The material for the artist’s work was and continues to be brought from Thailand, where the beetles themselves are eaten, and their shells are preserved for decorative purposes.