reclining cat in art is one of the dominant themes found in painting,
sculpture and photography. The cat has historically symbolized many
things--beauty, grace, indolence, mystery, and duplicity. Cats spend
a good portion of their lives in light "cat naps," in which
they rest yet are ready for action at any moment. They give us their
hearts, yet never belong to us. They live with us, but the terms are
the reclining cat as art form, the cat can be either curled up or stretched
across the frame. Some cats appear to be in deep sleep; others are resting,
perhaps even playing.
"Kitten in Box," the cat here is, obviously, just a kitten.
This kitten is not sleeping; she is happily playing. Yet the dilapidated
box suggests that her future may not be as carefree as her behavior
cat in "Barring the Way" is a very different creature. The
cat out of doors, amidst nature, is a favorite subject of many artists.
This cat's relaxed pose suggests he is master of his own universe. Yet
the bridge symbolizes man's encroachment on the natural world and the
taming of the beast. Perhaps it is man's protection and guardianship
that lets this cat be so relaxed.
is no question that the cat in the next portrait, "L'Apres Midi
d'Un Chat" is anything other than a pet. Here he sits, on his plush
bed on soft blankets, oblivious to the world. But look closer, and we
see that there is a second subject in this pictureanother cat
in the background. The artist chooses to show merely the top of her
head. Is she a trusted friend or an interloper, infringing on the main
subject's terrain? Are his eyes tightly closed because he slumbers deeply
or because he is trying to block out her presence?
"Cats A Deux" there is no question that these cats are aware
of each other. They are nestled together, curled up like fetuses or
two heads of a playing card, in a shape that resembles an infinite loop.
Felis catus in perpetuum.
Poupees" is at first glance a charming scene depicting a dolls'
tea party. The viewer then makes the pleasant discovery that there is
a cat curled up among them. But this cat is not in repose. She gazes
directly at the viewer. Her expression is a mystery. Is she trying to
attract our attention and engage us in play? Or is she expressing that
her life, full of pampering, is nonetheless empty and meaningless?
cat was also embraced by abstract expressionists. In "Study in
Black and White" the cat has merged with its surroundings, becoming
merely a black-and-white montage, reminiscent of the works of John Singer
Sargent or Ansel Adams.