1 February 2012
Last updated at 15:52
Paintings by elephants and apes are to go on display at University College London. The curators say theirs is one of the first shows to bring the "work" of different species together. Bakhari, a chimp from St Louis Zoo, Missouri, US, painted this canvas.
Untitled by Baka, a Sumatran orangutan from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Colorado, US. Co-curator Will Tuck said: “Although it is fairly clear that any notion of art by animals is essentially anthropomorphic, it starts to raise very interesting questions about the nature of human art.” Images of monkeys painting date back at least to the 17th Century in European art, and possibly earlier, but it was not until the 1950s that the actual animal paintings became a serious subject, said UCL.
Curators say a highlight of the exhibition is a painting of a flowerpot by the elephant Boon Mee of Samutprakarn Zoo, Thailand, who was formerly a logging elephant. Jack Ashby, of the Grant Museum of Zoology, said elephant handlers "steer" the animal's trunk, which holds the brush, by pulling on their ears. He added: "We are not claiming the elephant was trying to draw a flowerpot."
Untitled by Samantha, a Western lowland gorilla from Erie Zoo Pennsylvania, US. Jack Ashby, manager of the UCL Grant Museum of Zoology, said: “Whether this is actually art is the big question. Ape art is often compared to that of two or three-year-old children in the ‘scribble stage’.”
Abstract Painting by Nong Bank, an elephant at Samutprakarn Zoo in Thailand. Art by Animals is part of the Humanimals Season at the UCL Grant Museum of Zoology, and runs from 1 February to 9 March. The museum is open to the public 13:00-15:00 GMT, Monday to Friday. Admission is free and there is no need to book.