Monday, November 25, 2013

Cats in Art: Lovers With a Cat (Kokoschka)

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

Image credit here. Lovers with a Cat, Oskar Kokoschka, 1919, oil on canvas, 36" x 51", held by Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland.

Zuffi's observation:

His paintings--superficially blotched, aggressive, textured, and rich in material--reveal an intimate gentleness and a search for affection and love, as this splendid canvas clearly demonstrates.  The feelings and poses of the two lovers, who simultaneously embrace and elude each other, reach out and withdraw, are symbolically emphasized by the silent presence of the cat.

My thoughts?  The cat (who actually kinda looks like a terrier), seems eager--like the man--for the activities to commence.  Yet it almost seems like an afterthought for the painting, like Kokoschka thought, "Maybe I'll stick a cat over here in the left foreground."

Regardless, the painting is compelling--Kokoschka renders so well the conflicting emotions of the two people.  It would be great to actually see this image in person: I bet the textures and the depth of the paint would be amazing, a feature that just can never be captured in a two-dimensional print. 

That was the element that so blew me away the first time I ever saw a Van Gogh in person: how thickly he laid the paint on, fully 1/4" deep in places.

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