Do you share the internet’s insatiable obsession with cats, but need a classy alternative to the cliched “hang-in-there” poster? Check out Walter Chandoha: Cats, Photographs 1942–2018, a glossy new coffee-table book published by Taschen that showcases the work of the late artist, who elevated cat portraiture to an art form with his captivating photos of our feline companions.
His life’s work totaled some 230,000 photographs, with about about 90,000 of those being of cats. Chandoha discovered his obsession with them in 1949, when he rescued a stray kitten and christened it Loco for its wild nighttime behavior.
“I relished the challenge of making photographs of cats and quickly saw the potential of attempting to capture their naturally expressive personalities,” he said in the forward to the new book, the 34th of his career. Chandoha was working on the publication at the time of his death in January at the age of 98.
Starting at home with Loco, Chandoha quickly branched out to other cats. He developed a niche for himself by photographing cats for advertising campaigns, becoming a favorite on Madison Avenue. Equally adept at capturing alley cats roaming the streets of New York City as he was at immortalizing pampered pets in the studio, Chandoha also unwittingly gave birth to the cat meme.
But regardless of what you think of LOLcats, Chandoha was a true artist, inspired by Johannes Vermeer’s masterful use of light and the Japanese-French printmaker Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita, known for his cat paintings, which have sold for as much as £7 million ($9.3 million) at auction, according to the artnet Price Database.
Far from a kitschy cuteness overload, the new book is a celebration of Chandoha’s long, prolific career, his skill as a photographer, and yes, all things cats.
See more photos from the book below.
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