Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cats in Art: Mediterranean Cat (Balthus)

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.

Image credit WikiArt, Mediterranean Cat, Balthus, 1949, 50" x 72", oil on canvas, held in a private collection.

Zuffi's analysis?

In the art of Balthus, the cat always fosters a great sense of ambiguity and tension.  In Mediterranean Cat, this French artist of Polish origin seems to realize one of the cat's dreams: not having to make an effort to obtain food.  From a rainbow over the sea, the lavish meal that the ravenous man-cat is preparing to devour descends directly onto the set table; a gigantic lobster is already on the tray.  The crystalline purity of the geometric forms and the rarefied light that permeates the surfaces bears witness to Balthus' passion for Italian Renaissance painting....

As for me--who by nature am deferential and polite to a fault--I am somehow drawn to this man-kitty as the antithesis of all that I stand for.  This cat is demanding, impatient, privileged, and just doesn't look like a nice kitty.

Yet the art is wonderful....

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