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"Excuse me... do you call that art?"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander thinks his brother would make a majestic subject for portrait art

 

 

 

So you send a photo to CatsPlay.com, and you get back a pillow & tote bag with fluffy's picture all over them. For sure fluffy is going to sleep on that pillow while you take the tote to the store and fill it up with her favorite treats and toys. Great cat art at work!

 

 

 

 

Strokes of genius... Cat Art

Cat Art is Appreciated by Both Cats and Cat Lovers...
No one can argue that the cat is an excellent subject for any aficionado of fine art. The grace and elegance of the feline physiology is admired by anyone with a sense for the unique combination of the pure beautified form and practical evolutionary achievement that make up a cat. But cat art, or rather the lack of it, through the ages is a reflection, even statement of:

  • What it means to be a cat and have their experiences.

and

  • The close relationship that exists between people and cats.

No great works of cat art (that is, with a cat as the subject) has stood the art collector's world on its ear by selling for millions of dollars at the prestigious auction houses of the world. But, many of the masters included a cat in their famous works. Many even drew the cat as practice for the fine techniques they were famous for. In the early days of cat domestication, as in ancient Egypt, cats were captured in the fresco art of the Pharaoh's and even went with them in their "after life" journeys as art work in the grand tombs (as well as being mummified and buried with the monarch). But then, cats were thought to embody god-like qualities and enjoyed a special place in the social structures of that period. Since then cats, like dogs or other pets, have been viewed as an addendum to the human experience. Except on a personal level where the relationship between a cat and her owner is almost sacred. It's on this level that the cat, and cat art, is appreciated most.

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What it Means to be a Cat and Have Their Experiences
Because the idea of "cat-ness" is an experience that only a cat can have, we are only outsiders 'looking in' at what it's like to be a cat. All the anthropomorphic qualities that we give to a cat can never enlighten us to what it must be to live a cat's life. What we have come to know as 'Great Art' is a reflection of what it means to be human and to live the human experience. Art can cause us to reflect on who we are and what it means to be alive, have morals and ethics. Even question why we are here. Ask what a cat must be recalling when, say, she is asleep and dreaming and we can only give a educated guess. As we watch her twitching we can only imagine what prey she is chasing or fear she is running from. It's certain to me that even though cats or animals don't have cognitive, rational thoughts, they can think and have memory. How that thinking and memory appears to them, in their mind, is a mystery to us. So, if a cat could paint cat art, would we be even able to recognize it as a reflection of the cat's experience? And I wonder, how would people be depicted in a painting cat's great work of art? Or, would they just leave us out of their cat paintings. Probably not. People have had too great an impact on this world to be ignored. So cats would most likely give people some rendering in cat art.

I'm not using scientific theory or grand philosophical argument to justify that a cat has thought. I'm not even sure if such studies have been undertaken. But, intuitive knowledge based on human experience with cats and animals tells me that there must be something going on behind those penetrating cat eyes. And by the mere fact that a cat responds and interacts with me says I'm talking to something more than a rock. Rocks don't respond to my voice... or miss the litter box. The point is that without having the experience of being a cat, it's impossible to create art from the viewpoint of a cat. We can only paint from our human experience... only from our experience with a cat. Not as a cat.

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The Close Relationship that Exists Between People & Cats
Over the millenniums people and cats have developed a mutual binding relationship that has removed the domestic house cat far from her wild, natural environment. She has come to depend upon (to the point of even expecting) a certain level of support from her human domesticators. We have to accept that responsibility since we were the ones to remove cats from the wilds and into our homes in the first place. But, that's another cat story. For now, what we have is symbiotic, or mutually dependant, cat-to-human relationship. Of course, it's really not so bad. Cats bring a lot of love, comfort and companionship to our table. They are sensitive to our moods and needs, and, they bring great joy to us with their cat antics and unique personalities. In short, the relationship between a cat person and her feline companion can be almost spiritual, creating a bond that persists when all others weaken. The cat, of course, is much more practical about it. All she requires is a comfortable home, nutritious food, good exercise and a warm, soft lap. And, some medical care from time to time.

So, what does that have to do with cat art, you say?

Great art attempts to justify our existence on a large scale. By it's nature art has to ask (or answer) questions that are meaningful to everyone. They have to be questions that beg solutions to such musings as "What does God look like?", or "What is the real face of war?". Not many artists are challenged by the stare of a cat. "What is she thinking?" is more of a personal inquiry between a person and her cat. Not a question that burdens the search of generations of curious minds. Now, works of art that feature bowls of fruit as the subject or pastoral scenes of sunny countryside's may not generate deep metaphysical questioning. Certainly they are most likely studies of style and the eloquent capture of light on canvass. Who knows, there might be a great piece showing a bowl of pears with a cat sleeping in front of it. Is that great cat art? There we are again... outside looking in. No one knows what relationship the pears have to the cat... or, why the cat is in such repose. We can only be in awe at the magnificent form of the cat at rest knowing what she can do when she reaches full stride... as we have seen her do from time to time.

With our relationship to the cat being such a personal one, we are left with cat art that is, for the most part, just that. Personal. Cats are embodied on everything from t-shirts to mouse pads. Their pictures may be photographs, life-like drawings, or caricatures of her personality as we understand her from our experience. And, that's not so bad. Personal relationships are much more rewarding. They give us the boundaries we need to understand ourselves, help us to get along with other people, and make our own lives meaningful.

Still... I wonder what goes on in my cat's mind.

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Maybe Alexander can Shed a Little Light on the Subject
Cat art is especially appreciated by Alexander, our proud Abyssinian cat. Though he has found that he must have the patience of, well, a cat...

""Please, monsieur, you must seet still".

Fine art does not come easily. "Please, monsieur Alexander, we must not lose thees perfect light".

This artist was renowned for his famous cat portraits. Many of his renditions and reproductions have been commissioned for cat mugs, cat t shirts, and cat note cards. He drew kittens, too, but he preferred the majesty of adult cats to the cute, cuddly kitten works that appealed to most peoples nurturing instincts. So, when the opportunity to paint Alexander presented itself, he leapt at it.

"Cat art requires a true understanding of the cat personality, a cat’s physical nuances and body structure, and, most importantly, one needs to capture the cat’s inner glow. His soul, if you will. With the perfect lighting to capture these unique qualities…it ees a perfect gift for your animal lover friend", our cat artist is quoted as saying.

Cat art lovers have retained his services for years to paint cat and kitten likenesses to hang in their homes and give as gifts to their cat lover friends. Your favorite cat’s picture can also make it’s way into the galleries of your own home. Not only as a portrait, but on coffee and tea cups, t shirts, and note cards, too. So the opportunity to give a gift of cat art is available in many forms and mediums.

"Monsieur, please… seet still".

That’s all Alexander needed. He leaped up, walked to the window, turned his back to the famous artist and through half-open eyes surveyed the pastoral scene outside the window thinking about his wandering brother chasing Gnu in Africa. "This guy never changes", talking to himself, "He’s got my picture on posters, mugs, t-shirts and note cards…where else is he going to put me? Running through the African bush chasing down my dinner?... "

"Well... maybe being the subject of cat art and a symbol for the perfect cat lover gift isn't such a bad idea after all... "

But, he wasn't going to return to his pose too quickly. Artists... they're sooo temperamental

 

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Photograph Courtesy of "Loonah" by Nina Gruber

 

 

 

 

 

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