1 Jun 2014

Extreme cat memes: the artist painting her cat into classics

A Russian artist has become an internet sensation after painting her ginger tabby into world famous masterpieces. Channel 4 News speaks to Svetlana Petrova – while viewers sent us their own versions.

Svetlana Petrova’s cat Zarathustra has managed to land his very own exhibition. The ginger tomcat is no oil painting, but he has crept in to some of the world’s most famous works of art – and become an internet sensation.

The artist inherited the ginger cat when her mother died, and she credits him with saving her from the “black dog”.

“I had horrible depression after her death,” she told Channel 4 News. After two years, a friend eventually suggested that she make art using her cat, because “he’s so funny”.

And that’s exactly what Ms Petrova did. She sees it as giving “new life” to an old painting. Her version of the Mona Lisa for example, becomes a woman taking a selfie with her cat.

Her digital adventures in art went viral, feeding into the internet craze for cat memes and “lolcats, and Zarathustra has become an internet sensation.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to see how our viewers’ cat pictures compare:

Zarathustra poses with an chubby angel at the bottom of Raphael's Sistine Madonna, from the Sistine Chapel

Zarathustra poses with a chubby angel at the bottom of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna, from the Sistine Chapel.

Titian’s Venus of Urbinon – with Zarathustra as a censor.

In Svetlana Petrova’s version of Boris Kustodiev’s painting, the merchant’s wife and the cat switch places, with Zarathustra taking centre stage.

Sandro Botticelli’s The Spring.

Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, part of the Sistine Chapel, is given an update.

Edouard Manet’s famous depiction of the cabaret bar Folies-Berg in Paris is given the fat cat treatment by Svetlana Petrova,

Another Botticelli – this time The Birth of Venus, with (you’ve guessed it) Zarathustra taking centre stage.

Katsushika Hokusai, Great Wave off Catnagawa, or Happy End of the World Day (oceanic version).

We asked Channel 4 News readers on Twitter to send us their cat pictures and captions to compete with Zarathustra. Here are some of the best: