Before Internet Cats: Feline Finds from the Archives of American Art

In the Artist's Studio

We found [Gippo] in the woods and he has a little wildcat in him. . . . But now he’s happy. The studio he feels is his. . . . I keep telling my wife that she should have trained Gippo and used him for ads for cat food because he’s a natural ham. And he’s such a handsome cat that he’d have been a perfect model.

—Romare Bearden, oral history interview, 1968

These photographs of artists in their studios enhance our understanding of the artist’s biography, notably their working process. For many artists, the studio is a solitary space for reflection and work. Cats often make ideal studio companions. They serve as sympathetic critics and elegant muses. While not as accommodating as human models, felines spend long periods being still—often napping and sometimes inscrutably staring into the distance—and their constant presence makes them more readily available to sketch, without prior scheduling.