Thursday, May 7

Cecil


Chalk it up to not being an Andy Warhol fanatic, but I never knew about the story of his taxidermied dog 'till today. Don't get me wrong, Warhol has his place in the history of art and I am well aware of his contributions to the art world, but this little tidbit about his life is kind of cool. Care of the Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, this quote is from the exhibit titled Canis Major: Warhol's Dogs and Cats (and other party animals.)

Warhol once wrote, “I never met a pet I didn’t like.” Indeed, the artist had many pets throughout his life, including his childhood dog Lucy, over a dozen Siamese cats, and his dachshunds Amos and Archie. His studio, the Silver Factory, had two resident cats, Black Lace and White Pussy, and he was fond of his friend Brigid Berlin’s pugs, Fame and Fortune.

The artist was also a collector of taxidermies, and owned a lion, a peacock, a penguin, and a moose head. The most famous animal in his collection, however, was the Great Dane, Cecil, who stood guard at the Factory’s door from about 1969 to 1987. Many superstar visitors posed with Cecil during visits to the factory, and he also appears in Warhol’s video Factory Diaries.

Recent scholarship by canine photographer and genealogist Kerrin Winter-Churchill has discovered the true identity of “Cecil,” his pedigree as a Westminster Champion, and the strange tale of how he arrived at Warhol’s door. The dog, whose real name was "Ador Tipp Topp" was born in Germany in 1921. As a puppy, he was purchased by an American, who entered him in many competitions, including Westminster where he won a blue ribbon. After his death in 1929, Ador was sent to a taxidermist who was building a collection of champion dog breeds at Yale’s Peabody Museum. By the 1960s the collection had been relocated to storage, and Ador’s remains were sold to a Yale drama student for ten dollars. The dog was eventually passed on to an antiques collector, who claimed he had belonged to filmmaker Cecil B. deMille. Warhol believed the story and purchased the dog in the late 1960s.

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