Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cats in Art: Two Cats Poster (Steinlen)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I am using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi.

I am currently featuring 4 installments of the poster art of Theophile Alexandre Steinlen--this is 1 of 4:

Image credit WikiGalleryTwo cats: Poster for the Exhibition of Drawings and Paintings by T. A. Steinlen, T. A. Steinlen, 1894, colored lithograph and watercolor, 23" x 19 ", held by Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

Zuffi's analysis:

This lithograph, clearly inspired by Japanese art, right down to the elegant calligraphic the printer's proof for the poster of the first and most comprehensive exhibition of the work of Steinlen, who was the first great poster artist in the history of art and advertising, working closely with Toulouse-Lautrec.  Steinlen adored cats, and considered it a mark of destiny that he began his career working for a periodical entitled Le Chat Noir (The Black Cat).  Indeed, his first collection of engravings was devoted to cats.  For this reason, as the key image of his first retrospective exhibition, he chose the soft, elegant lines of two practically Art Nouveu cats; the image also plays on the chromatic contrast between a three-colored "harlequin" cat [we in the U.S. use the term calico] in the foreground and the extremely elegant, totally black cat in the background.

Steinlen captures perfectly a phenomenon that I like to call "cats pretending they're not with you" in which a cat follows or accompanies you somewhere, then lies down in an oblique posture that emphasizes its independence...all the while keeping one eye out for any action on your part.


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