cats in art and a monotype of a cat

monotype: copyright Vivien Blackburn

This is a monotype I did some time ago - made by doing a random roll up of the printing plate with the honey/burnt sienna coloured printing ink. I then made cut out stencils from newspaper and overprinted with the black ink. With monotypes there can only be one, it isn't possible to recreate the print again. For this type of printing you don't need a printing press, you can just place the paper over the printing plate and rub the back with a baren or your palm to pick up the ink from the plate. He looks a bit cross at being disturbed.

I've been looking at cats in art from the earliest times and found some beautiful examples :)

In ancient Egypt they were of course revered but in medieval times their fortunes changed and they were seen as associated with magic, witches, licentiousness and wrongdoing. Hundreds of thousans were exterminated - leading to a rise in the rodent population and probably aiding the rise and spread of the plague - the black death. You can read more about their history here

this is from the Egyptian Book of the Dead

Monet, Sleeping Cat

I think Monet must have liked cats :) this one looks very comfortable on his bed and he's caught the nose tucked in, i'm-here-for-a-serious-sleep-do-not-disturb posture perfectly.

Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen

Simplified for a poster this ad still catches the fluidity and expectant attitude of the cats beautifully.

It's one of the things I love about cats - their fluidity, the way their shape changes with their position and their body language. Dogs are much more solid and their body shape doesn't change as much.

Sadanobu Hasenawa 1970

An all black cat isn't the easiest of subjects. This image is so simple and so economically done and catches a moment in time superbly as does the image below,

Will Barnet

Felix Vallotton - woodcut

Both of the above show a clear oriental influence in their elegant simplicity, balance and fluidity.

Toko. Japanese silk painting

A gorgeous soft gentle image.

Hu Chan, a contemporary Chinese painter

- a mix of the simplicity and fluidity of traditional work with a touch of Western influence.

One of my favourite artists is Gwen John and her sensitive cat paintings are a delight. They have the soft colours and tones typical of her work and she catches the character and attitude of her subjects - the fat little puddle of fur in the middle is just gorgeous :)

Gwen John

Franz Marc

Again, simplification but this time a Fauve image, colourful and bold.

And below a series of Japanese prints which so influenced the Impressionists

Japanese watercolour 1850

Kuniyoshi Kitagawa - woodcut


a beautiful simple sketch of a rather grumpy looking cat :)


and then , a rather strange cat by Picasso - I'm not a great fan of Picasso but thought I'd include it as another way of looking.

I was going to include a painting of 2 cats on a Paris rooftop, one black, one white but can't remember for sure who painted it - was it Chagall?

Do you have some interesting links to works to add? do you like these works?

If you prefer dogs then this has been a long and boring post! >:>D

sketch - toasting in the sun :) copyright Vivien Blackburn



Making A Mark said…
What a lovely post Vivien - quite makes up for me not being able to get to the Private View of the sOFA exhibition yesterday.

Consider yourself blogged for Sunday!
vivien said…
thanks Katherine

sorry you didn't make your opening night :(
Robyn Sinclair said…
I absolutely prefer dogs but was certainly not bored by this post, Vivien. Gorgeous cats all, I thought yours was terrific and also the Will Barnett & Vallotton woodcut. The Oriental watercolours are charming. I think cats lend themselves much better than dogs as models from a design point of view. A bit like cows, their skin drapes so wonderfully over their bones.
vivien said…
a lovely expressive phrase that last one :) and very true.

A friend who prefers dogs doesn't feel comfortable picking a cat up because of the way they flow! she likes the solidity of dogs - which of course always seems strange to me!
Unknown said…
great monotype and it reminds me that i've to put my new book by julia ayers to good use :D the post is a visual feast. thank you very much.
vivien said…
thanks :)

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