Cats, one of the favourite subjects of artists Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei, will be celebrated in a dedicated, FREE exhibition in the NGV children’s galleries opening on 11 December. Both artists’ fondness for felines is well documented; Andy Warhol lived in a New York apartment with more than twenty cats called Sam (plus his favourite Hester) and Ai Weiwei’s studio is home to over thirty cats, including one who opens doors and ‘Garfield’ who winks.

As part of the NGV Summer blockbuster Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei, Studio Cats will feature fun and interactive cat-themed activities representing both artists and their work, including new commissioned wallpaper by Ai Weiwei, a wallpaper design by Andy Warhol, rarely seen drawings of cats by Andy Warhol as well as films and photographic portraits of the artists showing their deep affection for their cats.
Ai’s love for his cats was well documented in the 2012 documentary about the artist, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, and cats appear frequently in the artist’s Instagram posts. In the exhibition space, children will be able to create their own cat tributes by generating cat memes using clever captions alongside these images of Ai’s cats, in a new multimedia activity.
Visitors can create a video self-portrait inspired by Andy Warhol’s silkscreen portraits of celebrities and friends, and pose for the camera themselves to create Warhol-inspired videos that can be shared with family and friends. These videos will feature a surprise cartoon cat who pops up in the shots for all to see.
For young children an activity has been developed, which references Warhol’s early 1960s sculptures of packaging boxes. In this installation children can create their own stacks of American household packaging boxes of the era such as Brillo Soap Pads and Heinz Tomato Ketchup.
Other highlights of the exhibition include a suite of rarely seen, intimate photographic portraits of Warhol interacting with his cats by photographer Edward Wallowitch and original drawings from Warhol’s 1954 artist book 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy, which featured hand-coloured drawings of cats. Also on display will be Holy Cats by Andy Warhol’s Mother, a 1960s small-press publication illustrated by Warhol’s mother, Julia Warhola.
In a mini theatre, children can enjoy a short film on the big screen starring a cast of cats that tells the tale of the two artists and view Hosen Tandijono’s film 258 Cats, which was filmed at Ai’s studio in Beijing.
The exhibition is accompanied by a new NGV Kids publication, Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei: An Art Book for Kids. Through stories, interesting facts, artwork images and illustrations, the publication explores the artists’ shared passions, artistic practices and mutual love of cats. The book also features creative activities for children to try, which have been inspired by both artists’ unconventional approaches to art.
Studio Cats will complement the Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei exhibition, developed by the NGV and The Warhol, Pittsburgh, with the participation of Ai Weiwei, which explores the significant influence of these two exemplary artists. Surveying the scope of both artists’ careers, this major exhibition presents over 300 works, including major new commissions, immersive installations and a wide representation of paintings, sculpture, film, photography, publishing and social media.
The NGV wishes to acknowledge Tim Fairfax AC and Gina Fairfax for their generous support of the exhibition Studio Cats: Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei for Kids and the associated publication Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei: An Art Book for Kids.
The NGV Kids program is supported by a grant from the Truby and Florence Williams Charitable Trust. This grant provides crucial encouragement to the corporate and philanthropic community to support children’s programming at NGV.

Where: NGV International

When: 11th Dec 2015 - 24th April 2016