Cats and Art From Way Back: Marcel Broodthaers’ “Interview with a Cat”

02/22/2013 11:28 AM |


All hail cats. For better or worse, Nyan Cat, Kitler, and LOLcats have burned their way into our Internet-based memories. They’ve been nuzzling their way into our lives for ages, and for one such historical reminder, look no further than Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers’ performance “Interview with a Cat”.

“Interview with a Cat” is an audio clip (Boo!) and it’s in French (Boo!), but it’s still pretty great. Broodthaers asks a cat what he thinks about a certain painting—Is it innovative or just academic crap? In true cat behavior, all the artist gets in response are several brackish meows. That cat’s got a motor on him, more than most people when discussing matters of conceptual art, and for that, I’m envious.

Broodthaers isn’t the only conceptual artist who talked to animals. But his performance sure is more lively than other examples. The best known example of “artists-talking-to-animals” involves a rabbit that’s already pushing up daisies, in Joseph Beuys’ 1965 performance “How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare”.


You’d never see a cat being coerced into a performance like that; they’re too vocal, too lively, and not prone to being carried around like a limp baby for a long period of time. But interviews, yes, they’re always down for doing that.