Fine Art Felines Friday: Paris Through the Window by Marc Chagall

Paris Through the Window (1913)

Paris Through the Window (1913)

Today’s short and sweet Fine Art Felines post features the painting “Paris Through the Window” by the Russian (and later French) Jewish artist Marc Chagall (1887 – 1985).   Painted in 1913 after Chagall moved to Paris, this painting portrays the draw of Paris to all types of artists who flocked to the city in the early 1900’s.  Chagall was an “early modernist”, and in this piece experiments with a cubist style.  What I really love about this painting is the color juxtaposition: a rainbow of colors on the window frame that produces an almost prismatic effect upon the city amidst an otherwise brown and drab landscape.  I like to think that perhaps Chagall, in looking out his window at the city, was able to imagine all the possibilities that were in front of him – kind of like looking at the world through “rose-colored glasses”.  And of course, having a colorful cat to help you dream is an integral part of that visualization!  I’m not sure what is up with the human face on the cat, but if Chagall was anything like many of the cat lovers I know (including myself), we often anthropomorphize our kitties, giving them very human-like personalities layered upon their feline souls.

Regardless, this painting makes me happy.  How lucky would we be if we could all see such color outside our own windows of reality?

When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is”. — Pablo Picasso

Fine Art Felines Friday: Electric Cat by Louis Wain

An Electric Cat painted by Louis Wain.

An Electric Cat painted by Louis Wain.

Happy Independence Day!  I chose today’s painting by Louis Wain because it almost looks like this cat is erupting into fireworks, which is appropriate for my current blogging soundtrack (hint: it’s just before sunset and people in my neighborhood are getting amped up on beer and whiskey and are ready to light things on fire and watch them explode already!).  I could not find a title or a date for this piece, but that’s not too surprising, since Wain painted a lot of cat pictures like this in his later years, many of which were untitled and undated.  But let me back up.

I can’t believe, that as a person who loves cats and who loves art, and even more loves art featuring cats, I’d never heard of Louis Wain.  Seriously.  Just do an image google for “Louis Wain cats” and you’ll see what I mean – what a prolific painter!  He was born all the way back in 1860 in London, and led an unusual life, it seems to me.  He was the oldest of six children; none of his five sisters were ever married, but lived with their mother; all except for the youngest sister, who was declared insane and was admitted to an asylum.  Strangely enough, Wain, who had a cleft lip, did not attend regular school as a child, but achieved modest success as a free-lance artist with his illustrations of animals and the English countryside.  At the age of 23, he married Emily, who succumbed to breast cancer a mere 3 years into their marriage.  However, it was during her time of sickness that Emily and Louis rescued a black and white kitten that they named Peter, who did much to comfort Emily while she was ill.  Louis produced many sketches and paintings of Peter, who changed the course of his art for the rest of Louis’ life.

While Louis’ early work was more realistic, Louis’ intermediate works were anthropomorphized versions of cats, wearing the latest fashions, having parties, and doing other things that humans might do.  During this time, Louis was actively involved with several animal charities such as the Governing Council of Our Dumb Friends League, the Society for the Protection of Cats, and the Anti-Vivisection Society. He was also active in the National Cat Club, acting as President and Chairman of the committee at times.  You gotta love a man who loves cats this much, right???

Sadly, during his later years, Louis was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was institutionalized until someone publicized his plight (he was quite a popular artist for his time, although poorly managed his money).  His new doctor diagnosed him instead with Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism, and Louis was moved to a hospital that had a garden and colony of cats, which Louis enjoyed for the last 15 years of his life.  It was during this time that his paintings became more abstract, using bright colors and complex patterns.  Louis died on July 4, 1939, making today the 75th anniversary of his death (seriously, I did not plan this).

H.G. Wells (who wrote The War of the Worlds and many other works of science fiction) said of Louis Wain:

He has made the cat his own. He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look and live like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves.”

Fine Art Felines Funday: Lying Female Nude with Cat by Pablo Picasso

Because I’m taking Writing 101, my Fine Art Felines posts are now going to be on Sundays instead of Fridays, at least for the month of June.  I chose today’s Fine Art Felines piece, Lying Female Nude with Cat by Pablo Picasso, as a juxtaposition to the last piece I featured, Woman with Cat, also by Pablo Picasso (drawn in 1900).  Today’s piece from Picasso’s later years, completed in 1964, is a great example of the surrealism exhibited by Picasso as his painting style matured and evolved.  However, if you compare it to Woman with Cat, you’ll see that there are some similarities between the two paintings and that (as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago) you can see the characteristic Picasso style even in his earlier work.  For example, the color palate is very similar; the greens and blues, while more saturated than in the earlier painting, still reflect a quiet and intimate mood.  Further, while the previous piece was impressionistic and this piece is more surrealist, there is still a great deal of motion and communication between the two subjects.  Perhaps this is the “bizarro” world version of the earlier drawing…maybe this painting is the view of the person in the portrait and shows what he sees as he looks into the room and gazes upon a woman and her cat.

It seems that Picasso was rather fond of painting women with cats, including several nudes – and to be honest, if I were a painter, I’d probably paint a lot of women with cats, too! What similarities do you see between the two Picasso pieces?  Which one do you prefer?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Lying Female Nude with Cat by Pablo Picasso

Lying Female Nude with Cat by Pablo Picasso

Fine Art Felines Funday: Slim Woman with a Cat by Geza Farago

Slim Woman with a Cat by Geza FaragoI’ll admit I’ve been slacking.  I’m supposed to post Fine Art Felines on Fridays, but since I was being lazy (owning it!), I didn’t get around to writing this post until today.  However, today’s painting is one that I really love.

“Slim Woman with a Cat” was painted by Hungarian artist Geza Farago (1877 – 1928) in 1913.  Farago worked in Budapest as a theatrical costume designer, poster artist, and (my favorite) a cartoonist.  What I love about this painting is the art-deco style of the lines (especially with the cat – it reminds me of Le Chat Noir), and the combination of flat colors used on the cat, dress and sandy background in conjunction with the shaded areas of the woman’s neck, face and hands.  The combination makes a 2-dimensional painting pop, turning geometric shapes into a 3-D illusion full of depth and texture.  I also really like the colors that were used, with the blue and green details on the dress echoed in the night sky and water.  I hope you like it, too!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Ladies I Love: F is for Frida Kahlo

Frida KahloFrida Kahlo is one of my favorite female artists, and is therefore, perfect for my A to Z Challenge theme, Ladies I Love.  Born in Mexico City in 1907, she started painting at the age of 18 while recuperating from a bus accident in which she was impaled through the hip by a metal bar.  While at the National Preparatory School, she met famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, whom she later married in 1929.  They had a rather tumultuous relationship, both having affairs outside of the marriage.  A communist political activist and feminist, many of Kahlo’s paintings contained surrealist images that conveyed often controversial images of womanhood, pain (she had three miscarriages) and dreams.  She used bold colors and traditional Mexican elements in her artwork as well.

Frida Kahlo died at the age of 47 in Mexico City after several years of declining health.  Her work continues to grow in popularity, and she is seen as an icon of female creativity.  Her life story was made into the film “Frida“, starring Salma Hayek.  I encourage you to search for images of Kahlo’s paintings and enjoy her creative works yourself!  Here are a few of my favorite Frida Kahlo images:

Fine Art Felines Friday: A Fiver in the Kitty by Horatio Henry Couldery

I chose today’s painting, A Fiver in the Kitty by Horatio Henry Couldery, for Fine Art Felines Friday because when I came across it I was struck by how even way back in the 19th century, when this was painted, cats were still obviously major pains in the asses delightfully mischievous furballs, as evidenced by these two shredding up a letter and making a mess with the ink.  Which I find hil-ar-i-ous, <sarcasm> because I don’t know ANY cats (ahem, I’m looking at you, Samantha, Jesse, Abbey, Momo and ESPECIALLY OLIVER) who would be involved in these types of activities today </sarcasm>.  Anyway, back to this particular painting and a little about this artist.  Horatio Henry Coulder (1832–1918) was an English artist who emphasized cats, kittens and dogs in his subject matter (just image-google his name and you’ll see why I dare you to not call him a crazy cat guy).  I couldn’t find the year that “A Fiver in the Kitty” was painted, but if anyone can tell me what the title means, I will give you a virtual kitten squidgle behind one of your ears.  Deal?

Oh – and PS – Fine Art Felines Friday will be taking a break during the month of April because I will be maniacally busy with the A to Z Challenge.  But we’ll be back in May!  See you then!

A Fiver in the Kitty by Horatio Henry CoulderyA Fiver in the Kitty by Horatio Henry Couldery

 

Fine Art Felines Friday: Gato De Los Muertos by Laura Barbosa

I’m starting a new Fuzzy Undertones feature today: Fine Art Felines Friday!  Every other Friday (my “extra” day off of work, coincidentally), I’ll be posting a piece of fine art that features a cat in some way or another, and tell you a little about the artist.  I stumbled upon today’s featured painting just by googling around the Interwebs, and what made it stand out in the crowd was its bright colors and style.  I LOVE Day of the Dead art, so this painting, Gato De Los Muertos by Laura Barbosa, really caught my eye.  In browsing through Laura’s work online, I found her art to be colorful, abstract, emotional and very textural, and I really connected with her style.  Check out her website if you’d like to see more!

Gato De Los Muertos by Laura Barbosa