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  • Diane Gerrard

The not so secret life of Squirrels.

Maurizio Cattelan

I am intrigued by this  3D work of Maurizio Cattelan in which he has used a  stuffed squirrel   The use of  actual animals in art  rather than through artists’ depicting  them using  skill,  or interpretation,  has always been difficult for me and  I trust that this squirrel was  already dead and stuffed by another hand before Cattelan came across it.  Not being sure what he was saying about this squirrel I resorted to another’s interpretation and  below is comment from the Guardian newspaper’s arts correspondent.


“The dead squirrel raises all sorts of discussions. Is it a meditation on social mobility? The work is called Bidibidobidiboo, the Fairy Godmother’s spell to transform Cinderella – but no one was ever going to transform this squirrel, living in such dingy surroundings with little hope of escape to a better life.  It was, in every sense of the word, stuffed. Or is it a much more personal piece? The kitchen is modelled on the one Cattelan grew up in and the artist has talked about how his mother accidentally left a hot iron on the yellow Formica table. To save it, his father sawed off the end with the burn mark leaving the family to always eat their meals on an absurdly shrunken table.”   Mark Brown Arts Correspondent Guardian 2012

My Squirrel

A couple of years ago I drew a squirrel in a toy car, seemingly careering around the landscape, and which I had been prompted to do after a session drawing in the landscape.  A  squirrel had  sat beside me while I was drawing trees and for sometime had remained there quite still. I made a  couple of quick sketches of my squirrel companion. Other squirrels were frantically scurrying here and there, hiding things, fighting and chasing each other,  but this one stuck to me – did it hope I had food??

Prior to this drawing session I had been  working on an idea of toy animals in cars, the impetus coming from my drawing a toy belonging to one of my nieces.  Back at home the ideas of the squirrel and of a toy animal in a  toy car got merged.  My fancy was that a squirrel, if given the keys to a car, would  tear around, break the speed limit, and generally have a hectic, demented, but enjoyable time.  I  did an initial drawing of  my idea but did not develop it further,  so I was  really interested to see how someone else has used a squirrel in his work, (although he had done  his work long before me, I  think in 1996). Having discovered Cattelan’s work I am prompted to think about developing my squirrel idea and particular version. The sense of freedom and not a little  menace that I see  in my squirrel is quite the opposite of the interpretation given to Cattelan’s  3D work.

squirrel in a toy car

New York Times Illustrated Interview

I also recently discovered The New York Times  Illustrated Interviews site. It is  very entertaining and below is a link to the Illustrated Interview with Maurizio Cattelan, though not about squirrels!

More to Come

I have come across a few interesting  uses of squirrels in art, though for me  some border on the abusive and  more on this in later posts.  For the idea of my post title I acknowledge Nancy Rose’s books “The Secret life of Squirrels “.

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