Cats and the “Aesthetic Sense”

I have found lots of great images of calicos on Pinterest. One source of interesting classical Japanese and Chinese images is a board called “Classical Asian Paintings at the Museum of Cat Art” (found here). It is part of an extensive “Museum of Cat Art” at Pinterest. There are numerous other boards of Japanese cat art there as well. I’m not sure who runs it, or I would tell you!

[*Breaking news update: I found out who is the curator there. It is Tama Neko. Good work, Tama!]

This is a link to my calico board on Pinterest (click here).

In case you were about to roll your eyes and think, “Yeah, cat people are crazy!” read this quote, which is the slogan for the Museum of Cat Art on Pinterest:

“To respect the cat is the beginning of the aesthetic sense.” – Erasmus Darwin

So there.

Now enjoy!

Source: picmonkey.com viaCat on Pinterest

Source: lemewsee.tumblr.com via Coco on Pinterest

Now this is a busy Japanese piece with lots of busy calicos!

Source: google.com via Coco on Pinterest

Notice the clever little calico kitten playing in the lower left-hand corner in the image below, and the other one hiding just to the right of what’s probably the mother cat:

 

Source: en.wikipedia.org via Coco on Pinterest

Source: russelldjones.ru via Coco on Pinterest

  

The image is by Kaho Tuye, who lived in the 17th century.

Source: mollat.com via Coco on Pinterest

(The Zen Cat)

Advertisements

“A Couple Of Wittgensteins Slinking…”

In solidarity with our winter-bound friends on the East coast, here is a lovely short essay on ‘the mind of
winter’ by poet Charles Simic. It’s on the New York Review of Books blog.

Note the essay’s fourth section, in which he imagines the natural philosophizing of cow, dog, and cat around him–those “Wittgensteins slinking around back porches in the vicinity.”

So, if your cat were a philosopher, which one would s/he be?

I’ll have to think about that one because I can’t really think of Callie thinking, but rather as purely existing. That makes me think of her (as with our perception of all cats) as a Zen practitioner.

But that is a well-worn trope and probably a facile misreading (either of cats or of Zen). Maybe I should rephrase this and ask what Western philosopher’s thought a cat would exemplify.

Simic invokes Wittgenstein; I don’t know enough philosophy to have an opinion.

Anyone?

Read his essay here:

www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2011/jan/04/winter-philosophers

Callie on a footstool-cum-meditation bench

20130209-083428.jpg

Gwen John’s Cat Portraits

I came across this lovely portrait on Pinterest some time ago and pinned it to my Calico Cat board there. (Pinterest, by the way, is where I often find images of calicos, and my Calico Cat board is where I collect them for potential later use here!) I looked at this portrait whenever I added something to my board and was always touched by the expressiveness of this seemingly simple picture.

Gwen John-Cat

Finally I went back to the original source of the image. I found out that it is a well-known portrait by the Welsh artist Gwen John (1876 – 1939) who did many now highly-regarded portraits of women in France, her adopted home. Some of these portraits are in the collection of the Tate Museum in Britain. At the time, it was thought her portraits were old-fashioned since they used subtle color and were traditionally posed, figurative portraits. Her reputation seems to be growing because of the beauty of her compositions, their depth, and that subtlety of color.

I was taken aback that I’d never heard of her–though her brother, Augustus John, was also a famous painter and she was Auguste Rodin’s mistress for some years. [Do I need to point out that she has used the calico colors in her self-portrait below? Look at the dress and the cameo pin at her throat!]

Self-Portrait (1902)

I found more of her work in the Tate Museum collection. From their website here, I learned that Gwen loved cats and had a number of them. The cat in the portrait above was named Edgar Quinet–after the street near her place in Paris–though the cat was female. At some point Edgar disappeared, and Gwen was quite upset.

Here is another of her cat sketches

Cat (1904) Gwen John

Cat (1904) Gwen John

Gwen John’s cats are tortoiseshell rather than calico, but the color scheme is the same. By the way, if I understand correctly, the difference between tortoiseshell and calico cats is that the black, red, and white colors in a tortoiseshell cats are mixed together rather than being in large, discrete patches.

So here is a tortoiseshell kitty

Tortiecat

Tortiecat (Photo credit: LuAnn Snawder Photography)

while here is a calico . . . well, make that two!

2013_01_090011d

2013_01_090011d (Photo credit: Gwydion M. Williams)

Here’s a last pencil and watercolor portrait by Gwen John

Cat Cleaning Itself (1904–1908), pencil and wa...

Cat Cleaning Itself (1904–1908), pencil and watercolor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I think Edgar–if indeed this is also she–looks almost calico here because of the broad brushstrokes, but if tortoiseshell is the preferred term in Europe (as I’ve read somewhere), then tortie she is.

Nope, Pastels Do Not Go With Calico

Here’s proof that pastel colors do not go with calico!

Maybe that’s why Callie rarely goes into my daughter’s room–she knows the aqua-violet-hot pink decor doesn’t suit her.

Keep this in mind when buying accessories like cat beds and jewelled collars for your calico.

The same goes for you tricolor dog (i.e., Beagle, King Charles, Collie, Aussie, etc.) owners. No pink harnesses or Easter-bunny-colored dog blankets, please! It’s just wrong.

If you dress your calico cat/dog/horse in pastels, it looks like you don’t care. Like you don’t care how your majestic Jack-o’-lantern-colored friend looks out there.

Stick with red, black, flame orange, or medium green for accessories.

Wait! Isn’t the ‘calico palette’ the typical Halloween colors–orange pumpkins, black vampires, white ghosts?

Why didn’t that dawn on me before–especially when more than one person has told me Callie looks “scary”? (I just thought it was her intimidating fluffiness and raptor-like stare.)

Callie had a beautiful red collar for a while, but somehow managed to ditch it. The black and white one with little bows she had after that looked good on her too, but it started messing up her ‘ruff’, so I don’t make her wear it now.

No worries, she’s strictly an indoor kitty (and has a chip). I wouldn’t dream of unleashing such a creature on the unsuspecting local coyotes!

If anyone out there puts their calico in pastels *on purpose*, I’d like to see a photo proving why you shouldn’t be arrested for a fashion crime!