A Massive Collection of Cat Art Is up for Auction

The results of an art teacher’s passion project are for sale

"Katze" August Walla (Germany, 1936-2001) Pastel on paper, signed with handwritten letter to Pat Eddington on the reverse. Quinn's Auction Galleries
"Wounded Lioness at Ngari" Peter Beard, 1960 Photograph with mixed media Quinn's Auction Galleries
Two earthenware "Vampire Cat" jugs Patrick Eddington Quinn's Auction Galleries
"El Lion" Luis Gonzalez-Palma, 1994 Gelatin silver print with asphaltum Quinn's Auction Galleries
"Untitled" Gaylen Hansen Acrylic or watercolor on paper with painted blue border. Depicting a man wearing a hat with his cat. Quinn's Auction Galleries
"Ginzer" Kiki Smith, 2000 Aquatint, drypoint, and burnishing etching on paper. Smith placed the corpse of her cat on the plate and traced the outline to produce the image of the etching before burying him to create the etching. Quinn's Auction Galleries

By all accounts, Patrick Eddington was a beloved high school art teacher and artist who worked hard for and had a great rapport with his students at Salt Lake City’s Highland High School. But he had another passion beyond teaching: cats. Now, several months after Eddington’s death, his massive personal collection of cat-inspired artwork is being auctioned off for charity.

Cats and dogs have captivated the art world for generations, but Eddington’s project wasn’t just about making portraits: it was about collaboration. About a decade ago, Eddington set off on a project to compile as much cat art made by and with some of the world’s top artists and writers, many of whom he contacted through simple, if genial, letters, Ann Poore writes for the Utah-based magazine 15 Bytes.

“The story of how Patrick Eddington acquired the original Cat Project artworks is quite remarkable,” Matthew Quinn, executive vice president of Quinn’s Auction Galleries, tells ArtDaily. “For years he carried on an extensive correspondence with a staggering number of visual artists and writers. His genial letters, little gifts, and certainly his persistence, charmed many of them into contributing to the project. That was a feat in itself.”

Eddington who became known as "Pat the Cat," didn’t just want to build up a personal collection—from the beginning, he intended to eventually compile these artworks into something to display to the public. To this end, he persistently pursued artists and writers like Ray Bradbury, Kiki Smith, Haruki Murakami and Ralph Steadman, to name a few.

“This project is a labor of love,” Eddington wrote in a 2004 letter, according to Hyperallergic’s Claire Voon. “It will culminate as a large book and traveling exhibition. It will also help Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. I’ve asked individuals I admire to create cat-related works. They are not the typical cat images but creative works.”

For Eddington, cats weren’t just fluffy little cuddlers—they were venal, vain and self-serving animals. He was intrigued by their complex nature throughout his life, and while he never completed the "Cat Project," the proceeds from the auction will still go to the animal sanctuary as he intended, Voon reports.

All in all, the auction contains 246 different pieces, including several ceramic, cat-faced jugs that Eddington made himself. With such a wide variety of styles and artists represented in the sale, it seems like it has something for just about everyone.

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