Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Cats Are Purrfect Muses, And These Historical Paintings Are Proof

Before the Internet, cats ruled art

Maddie Crum Culture Writer, The Huffington Post

Cats prance from room to room, expressing their whims and fears spontaneously. They scratch, they bellow, and they quietly watch the world go by from a fur-covered windowsill. They’re certainly more intrinsically motivated than their canine counterparts — you won’t find a cat that puts its owner’s social needs above its own.

All of which is to say, cats and artists have a lot in common.
So it comes as no surprise that lions and tiny tigresses have served as the subjects of art dating back to ancient Egypt, through Gustave Courbet’s soft-whirling oil paintings, and contemporary woodblock prints.

An upcoming exhibit at the Worcester Art Museum, dubbed “Meow,” will provide a historical survey of these feline portraits, including a woodcut created in 1912 depicting a gardener and her curious cat onlooker, and a 1975 lithograph of a mysteriously winged Siamese. The museum’s director of audience engagement, Adam Rozan, wrote in a press release, “Cats have given rise to a plethora of creative online projects, videos, and memes that mix humor and artistry. While the Internet has allowed for viral consumption of this content, this phenomenon isn’t new.”

While humor doesn’t factor into most of the images on display, many artists did choose to portray cats’ expressiveness in their work. A 20th-century lithograph called “Girl with Cat and Tiles” depicts a dainty blonde holding a squirming, ready-to-pounce tabby. For this and other crazy cat pics, see below.

Meow: A Cat-Inspired Exhibition“ — including an interactive installation featuring live cats, a community art show and special art classes — will be on view at Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts from May 21 to Sept. 4, 2016.
  • Helen Hyde
    A Mexican Coquette, 1912 woodcut on cream Japan paper Anonymous Gift 1988.78
  • Will Barnet
    Meditation and Minou, 1980 Gift of the Artist 1994.196 © Will Barnet Trust/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY Alexandre Gallery, New York, NY
  • Gustave Courbet
    French, 1819-77 Woman with a Cat, 1864 Oil on canvas Museum purchase 1940.300
  • Robert A. Nelson
    Cat and Mice, 1975 color lithograph on cream wove paper Gift of The Boston Printmakers 1976.43 © Robert A. Nelson, used with permission.
  • Theophile Alexandre Steinlen
    The Cat in Winter, 1909 lithograph on cream wove paper Sarah C. Garver Fund
  • Cornelis de Visscher
    The Cat, 1657 engraving on cream wove paper Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection 1926.1078
  • Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita
    Untitled (Girl with Cat and Tiles), 20th century color lithograph on cream wove paper Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Hall James Peterson 1982.124 © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
  • Orovida Camille Pissarro
    The Ambush, 1938 etching and aquatint on cream laid paper Museum Purchase 1940.302 © Estate of Orovida Pissarro, used with permission.
  • Yoshida, Toshi
    Lion, 1987 woodblock print, ink and color on paper chuban Gift from the Judith and Paul A. Falcigno Collection 2010.127 © Estate of Yoshida Toshi, used with permission.
  • Worcester Art Museum
    Egyptian Cat, 26th Dynasty (672-525 BCE) Museum Purchase 1947.7
  • Yoshida, Toshi
    Black Panther, 1987 woodblock print, ink and color on paper chuban Gift from the Judith and Paul A. Falcigno Collection 2010.129 © Estate of Yoshida Toshi, used with permission.

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