Pictures of Cats: Internet Silliness or Serious Art?

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This is a post about pictures of cats. Portraits of animals can be both moving and powerful, but since the mid-’00s, they’ve been first and foremeost a lodestone for post-millenial internet silliness, all rendered in grammatically mangled 36-point Impact. LOLCats are one of the most pervasive cultural phenomena of our brave new internet age, god help us, building I Can Has Cheezburger into a commercial powerhouse and breeding a whole new pidgin vocabulary that gets used (ironically, of course) more and more often in everyday life. In view of this, we were interested to read on Creative Review about a new exhibition that opened in London this week — archly entitled “For the LOL of Cats,” it attempts to make sense of the whole thing by looking at the history of cats and photography, from the Brighton Cats to the present day. It’s an interesting enough idea, and we’ve collated a selection of images for the show after the jump. What do you make of it all, gentle reader? Interesting cultural commentary or postmodern piffle? Is it time for another “What is art?” discussion? Just think: if Marcel Duchamp had had a cat and an ADSL connection, all this unpleasantness could have been avoided!

mugumogu, Maru. Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

Schotb, Cat Scan, 2008. Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

Glenda Moore, ASCII Art Cat. Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

Toru Umeda, Stray Cat, Kabukicho, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

Kathy Bengston, Cat #1681, Lily. Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

Michael Cross, Cooper the Photographer Cat. Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

Michael Cross, Untitled (photo by Cooper the Photographer Cat). Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

Michael Cross, Untitled (photo by Cooper the Photographer Cat). Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

Christian Allen, Nancy Bean. Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

Christian Allen, Photo by Nancy Bean. Courtesy of The Photographers’ Gallery, London.