Scientists have recently offered up a theory that the parasitic disease toxoplasmosis, which is carried by cats, affects human brain chemistry in creepy ways, with some even theorizing that it eventually makes us the cats’ servants. At the Eyeo 2013 conference, Kevin Slavin posited that this is the reason for the prevalence of cat videos and memes on the Internet. I’m not sure about that, but as a cat owner I know that they are our betters, and that the planet should belong to them…and my head hurts.
I’ve also realized that some of the greatest parts of modern art are the unexpected and smaller moments. Also, some of these involve cats. In fact, if you start looking closely you’ll see them all around.
In MoMA’s American Modern: Hopper to O’Keeffe exhibition you’ll see some paintings, prints, and other works capturing the intense buzz of modern American life. Within the chaos of George Bellows’s Preliminaries, for example, you’ll see men in tuxedos and the bright lights of a boxing match. And a lady wearing a cat on her chest. If modernity has taught us anything, it’s that cats should rule the world and we should carry them as they see fit.
Near the American Modern exhibition there’s a hallway to the Education and Research building. Along the way you’ll see the original keyboard cat in Chat écoutant la musique by Chris Marker. It’s a charming 2:47 of a lazy cat listening to music and nodding off. There is no music better than the sound of a cat purring, in my opinion.
In the Architecture and Design galleries there’s a new exhibition, Designing Modern Women 1890–1990, which includes some inflatable toys by Libuše Niklová. In the floor display case there’s a photo of the artist holding one of her other toys on her head. Of what? Of course, a cat, the king/queen of the animal kingdom!
Also in the Design gallery there’s a “graphics corner” that explores the changing role and visual imagery of women in the modern world through a selection of posters created between 1890 and 1938. Look closely at one design about the modern home, and you’ll see the perfect accessory to any home: a cat!
Finally, across the East River at MoMA PS1, the Mike Kelley retrospective has taken over the entire building, and it includes Kelley’s Black Landscape, from 2010. And what’s that in the foreground? A KITTY FOR HALLOWEEN.
AS I’M SURE YOU CAN NOW SEE, EVEN ART AGREES THAT CATS ARE PURRFECT.