Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A real artsy cat

Click to "embiggen"
A bit more than a year ago, our blogging friend Mrs. G revealed one of the artistic treasures of her home, and courageously bared her soul to the comments of critics.

It was a yard-sale find; one that she felt was an undervalued treasure. It was a painting - in fact, it was a larger than life-size portrait of a Siamese cat with compelling blue eyes.

You can read all about it at the link above. The gist of the story is that despite the critics, Mrs. G still treasures her cat painting, seeing it as an excellent example of naif American folk art. Or maybe paint-by-numbers.

That in mind, the other day while at a local antique store, I was struck by the painting above. A small panel, perhaps 12" x 12" painted in acrylic, it is another cat portrait painted in the naif style American folk art.

This cat, a ginger tabby, with a muscular, stocky body, looks guardedly at the viewer as it poses alongside what appears to be a papier-mache bobble-head toy tiger. The overarching line of the cat's tail is echoed by that of the toy. Both the cat and the toy have unusually large and powerful paws.

I sent her a photo, and await her response. I think Mrs. G could expand her collection, don't you think? It could be the primary on-line gallery of American Vernacular Cat Art. Perhaps we could host it together! It would be the Cat Art event of the year.

Detail of the shrine
I find that I have more Cat Art around the house than I realized. My folk art Vodou shrine bought after Hurricane Katrina shows a herd of cats being rescued from a flooded house Uptown by mischievous Lwa spirits.

I even have a papier-mache bobble-head cat - this one from Oaxaca.

Of course, this leads to a larger question - why have artists found the Cat to be such a fascinating subject? Is it the inscrutability of the Cat that proves to be so ellusive? Are cats easier to paint than dogs? As subjects, are they more rewarding?

Here's another exploration of Cat-as-art - the rather disturbing photo essay "Why Paint Cats?" by Burton Silver and Heather Busch

Painted cats? No. That's too much.

 It's just wrong.

Do you have Cat paintings in your home collection? Or Painted Cats?

UPDATE: I am humbled by the amazing Cat Art collection exhibited by Smalltown Mom.  Please disregard my feeble efforts, and visit her awesome blog.


smalltownme said...

I have both. But the painted cats aren't live cats; cats shouldn't be embarrassed like that.

My own personal cat art collection will be up on my blog shortly. Do stop by.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I am not a cat person, so no cats anywhere here. I do have a bobble-headed goat from Mexico that I treasure!

Alexia said...

No to both questions - though someone did give me a copy of that book once. I think I sent it to the Lions' Garage Sale :)
I have a perfectly ordinary unpainted cat, which I love to bits. She is affectionate, funny, playful and beautiful, and she keeps my grand-daughter in fits of giggles.

carmilevy said...

Hmm, good question. I haven't taken any cat pictures since our cat passed away a few years back. When he was alive, I spent many days sticking my lens in his face...I loved the geometry of how he was built. I can see their photographic appeal, as there's always a new way to see them through the lens.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I LOVE Mrs. G's cat painting and will adopt it if she ever decides to give it up (which she shouldn't).
The ginger tabby disturbs me because it looks as though he(?) would scratch me to ribbons if given the chance. The bobble-headed toy tiger might be suggesting that to me.
I passed my cat figurine collection on to my sister due to my frequent moves (and yes, the dh's suggestion). We have been awed and appalled by painted cats but we prefer our own sweet kitty... whom my husband says is perfectly worthless and completely covered in cat hair! (Secretly, I think he likes her a little bit.)

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I think one appeal of cats as portrait subjects is the binocular vision, that "not-human but kinda-human" look. I think the fact that cats' relationships to humans are such a mixture of affectionate and aloof also plays a role- one can never be sure of how a particular cat will approach one at any given time. When you're a Muse, you can pull off being fickle.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Cats rule the internet!