Sunday, December 3, 2017

Cats in Art: Le Chat Blanc (Bonnard)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art.  Having moved on from Stefano Zuffi's marvelous work, The Cat in ArtI am now using some ideas from Caroline Bugler's equally impressive book, The Cat/3500 Years of the Cat in Art.  You really should check out and/or own both of these wonderful works, easily available on Amazon or eBay (and I have no financial interest).

The bride and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in France where we were privileged to see both the Louvre and Orsay Museums.  Of the two, the Orsay was much better--less crowded, could get closer to the paintings, more cats.

This is the second of several posts on the cat art of Pierre Bonnard.

Image credit Gary (taken at Orsay Museum), The White Cat, Pierre Bonnard, 1884, oil on card, 20" x 13", held by Orsay Museum, Paris, France.

The Orsay Museum web site tells us:

Here, Bonnard uses distortion to create a humorous image of this cat arching its back. A strange animal, exaggeratedly arched on its paws, with its head drawn down into its shoulders, eyes like slits and a cunning expression. It seems both tame and wild. 
The painter spent a long time deciding on the shape and the position of the paws, as can be seen in the preparatory drawings. The x-ray of this work also reveals many changes, some of which are actually visible to the naked eye. "Art is not nature" he used to say, to the extent that his White Cat has become almost a caricature, "a comical and humorous image created through the genius of its master who observed and understood it so well" (Elisabeth Foucart-Walter).

I love this playful take by Bonnard of the cute white cat.  The bride and I once had a kitty whom we called Charlotte (for I contend that we can never really know a cat's name), who would get up on her toes and skitter around the room to engage us in chasing play.  Bonnard's white cat looks like it already is in mid-skitter.  And deciding whether you deserve a paw whacking.

[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!]

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