Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cats in Art: Two Cats (Marc)

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.

This is my first post on Franz Marc (1880-1916), a key German painter whose life tragically ended early on the Western Front in 1916.  This will be a multi-week series (I am still uncovering his cat works).  

Image credit Wikipaintings, hereTwo Cats, Franz Marc, 1912, oil on canvas, 38" x 29", held by Offentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel, Switzerland.
Zuffi is clearly a fan:
Perhaps the greatest of all modern animal painters, in 1911 Marc joined Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), and avant-garde Expressionist group formed in Munich...Marc's excessive attraction to nature drove him to depict animals almost exclusively, especially cats and horses; this passion lasted all of his short life, which was brought to a premature end in France during the First World War [Gary note: as was my great-grandfather]....Marc's work is strongly pervaded by a "romantic" sentiment, derived from his early studies of the philosopher Schelling.  With the distinction between subject and background lost, these two cats by Marc are extraordinarily "expressionistic" in their pre-Cubist deconstruction.
I get mostly lost in the art theory above, but I do know this: Marc obviously knew cats and rendered some mighty fine interpretation of them here.  The greenish-yellow cat on the right (I never imagined I would ever write something like that!) looks fiercely and intently focused...on what?  The blueish-black cat that dominates the center, is, well, licking its privates or its back, I can't tell which.  But each kitty is quite realistic, despite being a stylistic painted object.
I particularly love Marc's use of circles and spirals to denote cat anatomy: be sure to check out the rounded hind legs, the chest, the elbow, the face, the paws, and (of course!) the tail.
All are expressionistic representations of real anatomy, representations that truly work in this painting.

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