A while ago I came across artist Lois Wain, also known as ‘the man who painted cats’. I was fortunate enough more recently to see some of his work first hand in a small exhibition at The Qube in Oswestery, Shropshire.
I’m an artist who loves cats. While working with Powis Castle on a project which culminated in an exhibition, I became fascinated with a statue of a cat in their collection. This was a statue that may or may not have been Roman. It was of a cat. The Romans didn’t generally make cat statues. This interested me greatly. My work over the next few months centered on this cat.
Last summer I found this book (below) in Aberystwyth. It contains photographs of a number of well-known artists and their feline companions. Included in the book is Andy Warhol, who was not only famous for being a cat person, but for being a multi-cat person. His love of cats was so great it can be said to rival Louis Wain’s.
Being interested in cats and in artists who loves cats I decided to do a bit of research on Andy Warhol and his cats. I found out that in 1952, while living in a state of abject poverty before fame overtook him, Andy Warhol’s mother Julia came to live with him in New York. One story tells that she brought her blue cat Hestor with her. Another, that Hester was a present to Warhol from actress Gloria Swanson. It is rumoured that fearing that her cat Hestor would feel lonely Warhol arrived home one day with a second cat, which he called Sam. Sam and Hestor got on very well, extremely well. They had kittens, which Warhol named after their father. Then they had more kittens, all of which were given the name Sam. This carried on until they couple had gradually amassed a total of 25 cats, all called Sam.
Just two years later, Warhol and his mother published a limited-edition book of watercolour cats called 25 Cats Name [sic] Sam and One Blue Pussy. This book featuring Warhol’s well-known style line watercolor drawings in brilliant pop-art colors and calligraphy by Julia. Oddly, only sixteen cat images appear in the book.
Originally, only 190 copies of the book were published, designed to be offered as signed-copies as gifts for friends and family.
There was a sequel: Holy Cats by Andy Warhol’s Mother in honour of Hester once Hester went to the great big cattery in the sky. In Warhol’s words, this book ‘…featured what she loved to draw most, angels and cats‘.
Both books were republished in 1987 after his death.
I NEED to find this book! I have found it. I could purchase a copy for the small sum of £50. I think I shall wait for a contemporary publisher to rediscover it and republish it. Warhol’s love of cats was legendary. His nephew later published a book about his uncle called Uncle Andy’s Cats.
However, discovering this book has given me an idea. Watch this space.