Craxton’s Cats by Andrew Lambirth – Artlyst Book Review

Craxton's Cats

Andrew Lambirth’s Craxton’s Cats explores John Craxton’s enduring passion for cats, illustrated with a wealth of vibrant images. This beautifully crafted book delves into the life and art of one of modern British painting’s significant figures, offering an intimate glimpse into his world through his beloved feline companions.

John Craxton, celebrated for his early association with Lucian Freud, his sojourns in Greece, and his collaborations with Patrick Leigh Fermor, has garnered admiration from luminaries such as David Attenborough and Andrew Marr. Lambirth’s focus on cats—an ever-present motif in Craxton’s work—provides an accessible entry point for readers new to the artist’s oeuvre and a deeper appreciation for long-time fans.

Cats, for Craxton, were more than just pets; they were muses that reflected his moods and states of mind. Whether planning a lively taverna scene in Crete or doodling during a phone call, cats appeared effortlessly in his sketches, paintings, and prints. With their blend of affection and independence, humour and mischief, these creatures mirrored the artist’s free-spirited life. They were symbols of his happy-go-lucky approach, making this book’s theme particularly fitting.

Lambirth, a distinguished writer, curator, and critic, writes with personal knowledge of Craxton, enriching the narrative with anecdotes and insights. His previous work includes biographies of notable artists such as Roger Hilton, RB Kitaj, and Maggi Hambling. Craxton’s Cats stands out as a tribute to an artist and a testament to the universal charm and inspiration found in our feline friends.

This delightful book serves as a widely accessible introduction to Craxton’s art, appealing to both dedicated enthusiasts and those discovering his work for the first time. Lambirth’s engaging prose and the book’s stunning visuals make it a treasure for art lovers and cat aficionados.

In Craxton’s Cats, Andrew Lambirth has crafted a loving homage to an artist whose life and work were forever intertwined with cats’ enigmatic and endearing presence. It’s a book that charms, enlightens, and delights—much like the cats it celebrates.

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