This painting, Girl with Cat, by Balthus resides in the permanent collection at the Art Institute of Chicago. It is one of my favorite paintings. I love it’s innocence, the confidence of the sitter, the suggestive, unrealized tone, the cat, the color palette, the brushwork. It’s not one of the headliner paintings for the Art Institute–a museum that has superstars like Picasso’s Mother and Child, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, George Seurat’s Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte— the list goes on. I started thinking about this painting because of an article I read by Randy Kennedy of The New York Times, Name the Art That Calls Your Name.
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of my favorite places to visit, it is familiar, like a visiting a friend. When I lived in the mid-west I went there two or three times a year. I was fortunate to be part of a summer workshop for teachers four years ago, the Teacher Institute for Contemporary Art, a program associated with the school and museum. At any time during the workshop, I could leave the painting studio and wander through the galleries for inspiration. While I could and did ponder many of the masterpieces there, I found myself called to this painting over and over again. So, in response to Mr. Kennedy’s musings on what calls us to art, I share this with you.
(P.S. Some viewers may see an ad here. I appreciate our sponsors but it is not intended to be part of my message.)