Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cats in Art: Cat With Kittens (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 ninth post on Franz Marc (1880-1916), a key German painter whose life tragically ended early on the Western Front in 1916.  Maybe he even knew my great-grandfather.  This will be a multi-week series (I am still uncovering his cat works).

Image credit The Atheneum, here. Cat With Kittens, Franz Marc, 1912, oil, gouache and pencil on cardboard, 14" x 12", held by Staatliche Galerie Moritzburg, Germany.
In a painting little more than the size of an ordinary sheet of paper, Marc manages to evoke the essence of cat motherhood.  Nestled on a blanket or cover, Mom seems dead asleep and the two kittens, while possibly also napping, seem just a tad alert to me, just enjoying snuggling with their mother.  But also ready to play if the situation changes.
Just like human children.  Seems we still have a lot to learn from cat love.
And the kitten colors--maybe the symbolism of black and white is a little too obvious and Marc just painted two kitties of those colors, just because.  But I for one can't help but wonder if Marc did this on purpose, to make us think a bit about human lives and how sometimes they seem destined from birth toward a certain path. 
This simple painting, little bigger than a sheet of paper, lovingly created in a German studio a hundred years ago, touches me today.  Kitty or human child, this image makes me wonder what their futures lives will hold, what paths they will choose, what awful and wonderful fates await them....

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