I collect cats. There are only three that already saturate the available space in my home, so I enjoy other people’s cats whenever I can. My obsession doesn’t stop there because I also amass images of cats I see in art museums and galleries. I am always on the lookout for the shadowy places an artist might have hidden a cat in a Renaissance painting, or featured a cat in a Pop Art portrait. I even wrote a brief post about Cats in Art a few years ago.
Sleeping Cat Ruskin Spear was a British painter during the 1900’s. In addition to his portraits of dignitaries and such, he painted charming cats, as well.
My most populated collection of cats resides on Pinterest in Arty Cats. This is where I store and share images of cats I’ve seen that I really like. In my little online cat art gallery I’ve included master painters like Ruskin Spear and this sweet, sleeping cat, and Theophile Steinlein, who painted sassy French cats of the Moulin Rouge era.
Cats 1910 by the grandfather of all cat painters, Theophile Alexandre Steinlein.
Some living artists whose work I admire include Midori Yamada, who creates quiet cat worlds with simple compositions . But, I also like the folk-style art of Ryan Conners of Kilkenny Cat Art in which she portrays cat friends who take off on adventures in their Volkswagens.
All of this cat art is interesting to me, not only because I love cats, but also because I make pictures of cats. I like to see what other people are doing, and how I fit into the visual conversation. What is instructive to me, at the very core, is that people make extraordinary art about everyday things, in this case, cats. It is in the portrayal of the ordinary that elevates it to art as it becomes imbued with the perspective of its creator. Whether it makes us contemplate, or relate, or smile, or even dislike, then the art is successful.
As far our feline friends, it’s clear that cats inspire artists, whether as portraiture or symbol. The next time you’re in an art museum, I challenge you to do your own cat count to see how many works of art include a kitty. And, if you’re interested, you can see the varied cat portrayals I’ve saved on my Arty Cats Pinterest board. You can even start your own cat collection. If you can’t have more actual cats, then why not horde some virtual cats for your own enjoyment?