Creature Feature: An Online Animal Art Exhibition
Creature Feature: An Online Animal Art Exhibition

Creature Feature: An Online Animal Art Exhibition

Some of the earliest works of art made by people were animals drawn or painted on the wall of caves.   Recently discovered cave art from Indonesia, shows human-animal hybrid figures, warty pigs, and dwarf buffaloes and has been dated to nearly 44,000 years old! Animals have long inspired artists, from those ancient cave-dwellers, to monks painting in their cells; from Renaissance artists like Albrecht Dí¼rer, to naturalists such as John James Audubon; from explorers in the Galapagos Islands to the Indigenous peoples   of the American West. Animal art features in the history of every culture throughout time.

Three cats, in curtained window, watching a bird.
Wanda Gí¡g. “Cats at the Window,” 1929. Wood engraving, 8 1/2 x 7 3/8 in. (21.6 x 18.7 cm). Tacoma Art Museum. Carolyn Schneider Collection, Gift of Col. and Mrs. A. H. Hooker.

There are also many animals in TAM’s collections. In this online exhibition we have focused on works of art that show what makes these animals special.   These works of art tend to emphasize the grace and energy of animals. They reveal the strength and beauty of our fellow creatures on Earth. We are reminded that animals are not here for the benefit of humans and that we should respect them as beings with their own personalities, thoughts, and feelings.

Light background with shadows of rabbits and flowers. One red and one blue rabbit in lower half, some rabbits in top section with textured ears.
Jeffry Mitchell. “Two Rabbits,” 1993. Color aquatint and spit bite with chine colle on paper, 38 1/2 x 24 1/2 in. (97.8 x 62.2 cm). Tacoma Art Museum. Partial gift of Marcia Bartholme, Beta Press and partial Museum purchase

Some of these works are silly, some are very abstracted, some are hyper-realistic, others have a mystical quality. Artists have used so many different materials to suggest what is most important about these animals. You will see works of art made in oil paint, watercolor, glass, collage, and printing techniques. We encourage you to explore this exhibition and let these different works of art inspire you to think about the wonder, beauty, and nobility of the animal kingdom.  

You can find more animal art by searching our eMuseum.  We encourage you to browse further and find your favorite works of animal art!


Here are a few questions to consider while looking at these art works:

Which is your favorite animal work of art, and why?

Which work of art do you like the least? Why?  

Which work of art   best shows the animal’s personality?Why?

Which work of art is the most surprising – perhaps that you would not have expected to see?

Which work of art do you think took the longest amount of time to make? The shortest amount of time?

What animal would you like to make a work of art about? What materials would you use?