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Sentience

December 14, 2019 - Hyperallergic

Seeing Ourselves in a Chimpanzee's Art

Seeing Ourselves in a Chimpanzee's Art
Painting by CongoFile Photo / © Photabulous!

Seeing works by Congo the chimp takes us from wild aesthetic conjectures to sobering ethical dilemmas around animal agency, art ownership, and basic rights of living creatures.

The Naked Ape (1967), a global best-seller, was zoologist Desmond Morris's speculative anthropological study in which apes' body language and mating rituals highlight corresponding behaviors in humans. While Morris's text has long since been eclipsed by the more rigorous scholarship about simians by fellow Brit Jane Goodall, Morris pioneered multiple studies on the art-making impulse in animals, especially paintings and drawings created by a prolific chimpanzee from The London Zoo named Congo.

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