Noah's Art

There's a new artistic movement has been christened “Noah’s Art” – artwork done by animals trained to paint onto canvas. Paintings done by elephants have been sold at the elite auction houses such as Christie's and shown in museums and galleries around the world. Now the rising stars in the elephant art world have their own dedicated art gallery on the internet.

The artwork created by these animals helps to highlight the great animal care and conservation programs of accredited zoos and aquariums. Often, animal canvas art is sold openly for charitable causes to highlight the plight of endangered species.

Three paintings by Congo the chimp from the 1950s sold in London for the equivalent of £20,000, since then many zoos and sanctuaries are producing and successfully selling art made by animals. Art has been created and sold for various causes by elephants, dolphins, horses, and even turtles. The works by primates seem to bring the most money and attention as they are our closest ancestors in the animal kingdom.

In 1964 four paintings by a previously unknown avant-garde French artist named Pierre Brassau were exhibited at an art show in Goteborg, Sweden. Art critics from Swedish papers praised the works, Rolf Anderberg of the morning Posten wrote: "Brassau paints with powerful strokes, but also with clear determination. His brush strokes twist with furious fastidiousness. Pierre is an artist who performs with the delicacy of a ballet dancer."

However, one critic panned the work, suggesting that "only an ape could have done this." As it turned out, the latter critic was correct as Pierre Brassau was, in fact, an ape. Specifically, he was a four-year-old West African chimpanzee named Peter from Sweden's Boras zoo. After Peter had created a number of paintings, Axelsson chose what he considered to be the four best and arranged to have them exhibited in an art show at the Christina Gallery.

After the hoax was revealed the critic who had praised the work insisted that Pierre's work was still the best painting in the exhibition. Although many see “Noah’s Art” as a fad that will pass there are also those willing to invest large amounts in animal canvas art. Indeed, it says more about people’s tastes in abstract art than it does about the animals and - as all good art should - makes you question what life is all about.


The Canvas Art Shop