Art: Nine Lives

"I am not a friend, and I am not a servant . . . I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me."

If Rudyard Kipling was right about cats, the dawn-age original of The Cat That Walked by Himself had issued a declaration of independence that all descendants have observed since. But the cats' aloofness and self-reliance have never stopped some people from worshipping them, some people from boiling them in oil,** or generations of artists from trying to catch their inscrutable good looks.

Last week Manhattan's dignified Cooper Union put on a show whose...

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