Slither, Scamper, Soar

Animals in Art

December 6, 2019 - February 1, 2020


Slither, Scamper, Soar: Animals in Art

Anthrozoology is the study of human and non-human animal interactions and relationships. The field is multidisciplinary, and one of its areas of study is art history. Slither, Scamper, Soar: Animals in Art explores these relationships.

Some of the oldest art featured animals. According to a 2012 study that analysed 1000 prehistoric and modern artistic depictions of four-legged animals walking, cavemen accurately depicted their gait more often than modern artists and illustrators. Prehistoric people depended on in-depth knowledge of animals’ movements and behaviors in order to successfully hunt them.

Later, animals took on more symbolic attributes and were used to stand in for traits or ideas, especially in medieval art. During the Renaissance, artists became scientific in their study of animal anatomy, and by the 17th century artists who specialized in animals were called in to paint them in larger scenes. With urban industrialization in the 19th century, animals came to be seen as machines or raw materials. Today, actual animals—dead and alive—have found their way into art.


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