Sunday, November 1, 2015

Cats in Art: Cat Devouring a Bird (Picasso)

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.  This will be the first of several posts on the cat art of Pablo Picasso.

Today I'll present a couple of versions, from 1939, of the same subject:

Image credit WikiArt, Cat Catching a Bird, Pablo Picasso, 1939, oil on canvas, 32" x 40", held by Musee Picasso, Paris, France.sée Picasso, Paris, France

Image credit WikiArt, Cat Devouring a Bird, Pablo Picasso, 1939, oil on canvas, 38" x 50", held by Victor W. Ganz Collection, New York, NY.

First off, I'm going with the title that Zuffi uses for the second work, Cat Devouring a Bird, although the title Cat Eating a Bird seems to be much more prevalent.  The word "devouring" seems much more powerful and evocative than simply "eating."

Zuffi's analysis:

"This subject obsessed me.  I don't know why," declared Picasso who, though he liked cats, painted very few of them...In the first version of this painting, a large black cat, without whiskers, has just seized its prey, which is trying in vain to struggle free.  The [second] painting further develops this theme: the striped cat is already tearing apart the bird, now dead, holding it firm in its strong claws.  The furious eyes bulging in their sockets, the bristling whiskers, the shreds of flesh torn from the bird, and the overall agitation of the scene cannot fail to remind us how Picasso was profoundly affected by the events of the Spanish Civil War at the time.

If indeed the painting represents Picasso's feelings about the war, he captures quite well the horror, the violence, the insanity.  Just look at the second cat's crazed eyes, leaving me with the message that one must be crazy to embrace war.

Gary note: With my Cats in Arts posts, I encourage you to scope out the art appreciation site Artsy (I have no financial interest in the site, I just like it), where you can explore many aspects of the world of art.  You'll certainly be entertained and enlightened!

No comments:

Post a Comment