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If every time you try your hand at painting and colors, they tell you that you paint like a dog, don't take it: it could be a compliment! Since the 1950s, ethologists have observed the artistic vein of many animals, who, brushing their teeth, have expressed their "creativity". The production of these furry artists is often appreciated by enthusiasts from all over the world and fought at auction in figures with several zeros. In this photogallery Focus.it presents the most famous ones.

Texts and photographic research by Alessandro Bolla

Tillie is a Jack Russel Terrier from New York with a passion for drawing. It all started with a scratch: a few years ago Tillie jumped on the lap of her master who was writing documents with carbon paper and started scratching furiously, leaving his traces on paper. Tillie's drawings were immediately successful. The dog, which continues to produce works with this original "nail technique", has to her credit several exhibitions in the major cities of the world, including Milan, and her works are valued up to 2, 000 euros each. It has sold more than 100.

Congo is a chimpanzee observed in the 1950s by the zoologist Desmond Morris. It is the first animal artist of which we have a trace: his abstract paintings were admired by Picasso (who wanted to hang a picture of the monkey in his house) and Dalì, while Mirò said he was willing to barter one of his drawings for the animal. Some of his works (he produced more than 400) in surrealist style have been exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London. On June 20, 2005, three of his paintings were auctioned along with works by Renoir, Leger and Warhol. An American tycoon has been awarded by paying over 21, 000 euros.

One of the last animal artists on the international scene is Cholla, a 23-year-old American horse who discovered his artistic genius in 2004. Also appreciated by Vittorio Sgarbi, he even won a prize at an important Italian painting competition. In the spring of 2009 his works, listed up to 2, 000 euros, will be on display at the Giudecca 795 art gallery in Venice. If you want to know the history of Cholla and see it at work take a look at the blog " The man who whispered to horses ".

Even a 1000 kg pachyderm can express its aesthetic sense with delicacy and sensitivity: the famous art critic Jerome Witkin, invited to comment on some paintings without knowing that they were made by an elephant, expressed himself with a very positive judgment. And, even stranger, without noticing that the artist was not human.

Elephants, in their own way, also know how to interpret reality. In northern Thailand, where large spaces predominate, the paintings of the pachyderms are characterized by curvilinear forms and broken lines of light and vivid colors; in central Thailand, rich in forests, they are darker and vary from dark green to black to deep purple.

In the picture: some elephants of the Elephant Art project ( see also another elephant that paints ) revel in their favorite pastime. Their paintings are sold to finance the preservation of the species.

Writing in Chinese characters is difficult even if you have a hand and five fingers … let alone with your teeth. Jonao knows it well, a sea lion from the aquarium of Yokohama, Japan who has learned to write in Chinese a series of words communicated to him by his instructor. In this photo Jonao writes the word "mouse".

But even in the world of "pinnuti" competition is fierce: Morgan and Aero, two sea lions living in the Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park in North Devon (Great Britain) have been painting for years. The content of their works varies, in terms of colors and strokes, depending on their mood. The paintings of the two animals will be sold to finance the activities of the Marine Conservation Society.

Koko and Michael are two lowland gorillas who have learned to communicate with humans through gestures. They were delighted with painting for several years and between 1997 and 1998 they were given a solo show at the Terrain Gallery in San Francisco.

These two animals, according to the experts, would have succeeded in expressing through painting, even abstract concepts such as madness, hatred, good and evil. Like true artists, the gorillas, in fact, would have created their works based on the mood and feelings of the moment. Not only that, always in an abstract form, they also painted a dog: Apple. Their playmate for many years.

In the photo: a painting by Michael (who died in 2000, at 27 years of age) that would represent the concept of "smell", drawn by the monkey after it had been made to smell a bouquet of flowers.

And what about this painting? Has a hamster done it? Or a rhino? Sometimes grasping the difference between human work and animal work can be difficult. Do not you believe it? Test yourself with our " I did it " test.
In the photo: Lavender Mist, painted by Jackson Pollock in 1950 and exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

You might also like: 15 things you didn't know about elephants If every time you try your hand at canvases and colors they tell you that you paint like a dog, don't take it: it could be a compliment! Since the 1950s, ethologists have observed the artistic vein of many animals, who, brushing their teeth, have expressed their "creativity". The production of these furry artists is often appreciated by enthusiasts from all over the world and fought at auction in figures with several zeros. In this photogallery Focus.it presents the most famous ones.
Texts and photographic research by Alessandro Bolla
Tillie is a Jack Russel Terrier from New York with a passion for drawing. It all started with a scratch: a few years ago Tillie jumped on the lap of her master who was writing documents with carbon paper and started scratching furiously, leaving his traces on paper. Tillie's drawings were immediately successful. The dog, which continues to produce works with this original "nail technique", has to her credit several exhibitions in the major cities of the world, including Milan, and her works are valued up to 2, 000 euros each. It has sold more than 100.