Animal-Made ‘Art’ Challenges Human Monopoly on Creativity
Art is usually considered a uniquely human ability, but that may not be true. Given the opportunity, animals like chimpanzees and gorillas and elephants produce abstract designs that arguably rise to artistic level.
Arguably is, however, the key word. It’s hard enough to agree on an essential definition of human art, much less an animal one. But it’s a debate welcomed by Jack Ashby, manager of the Grant Museum of Zoology at University College London.
“That’s the question we’re asking people: What is art?” said Ashby, who thinks that human art may well reflect a creativity expressed in animals’ natural behavior, even if people don’t always appreciate it.
Ashby organized the Art by Animals exhibition, on display at the museum through March 9. On the following pages, Wired looks at possible animal art from the exhibition and elsewhere.
A painting by Samantha, a western lowland gorilla at the Erie Zoo in Pennsylvania.
Image: Rob Eagle/UCL