Animals in Art

artists, Isobel Turley

The prolonged human fascination held with animals is constantly seen within the art world. Alongside Turley’s work, we look at just a few other examples of artists intrigued by our interaction and relationship with animals:

Phillip Warnell

An artist-filmmaker and academic, Warnell’s practice is focused on exploring animality, cinemality and criminality using film, text and philosophy.  His film Ming of Harlem: Twenty one Storeys in the Air explores the story of a five hundred pound tiger living in a New York apartment with a man, seven-foot alligator and house cat.


Katharina Fritsch

Frisch often uses animals in her iconic sculptures. The symbols and objects she chooses are recognisable yet uncanny, something we can simultaneously relate to but also feels unknown. Her work Rattenkönig (Rat King) first shown in 1993 is both seductive and unnerving as the viewer is confronted with sixteen 12-foot-tall black rodents facing outward in a circle.

Damien Hirst

A central theme of Hirst’s work is death which in many cases he has explored through animals.

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living is a piece of work by Hirst that has become embedded in popular culture as one of the most iconic images of contemporary art. The work is made up of a thirteen-foot, 23 ton tiger shark preserved in a tank of formaldehyde in a steel and glass vitrine.



A pair of British collaborative artists, Olly Suzi make art that explores the life of endangered animals world wide, documenting the creatures on immersive expeditions into their habitats.


Image Credit: OllySuzi, detail ‘Tembo interaction’ 

Joseph Beuys

A German artist whose work explores the concepts of humanism, social philosophy and anthropology. In his performance piece I Like America And America Likes Me (1974), Beuys flew to New York, and on arrival was transported blind in an ambulance to Rene Block Gallery. Here he spent 3 days in a room with a wild coyote. After the 3 days were over, the coyote had seemingly come to accept Beuys’s presence in the room and even allowed a hug from the artist before he left.




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