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MoMA

FIVE FOR FRIDAY: ART PROVES THAT CATS ARE THE BEST THING EVER

October 25, 2013  |  Five for Friday
Five for Friday: Art Proves that Cats Are the Best Thing Ever

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.

George Bellows. Preliminaries. 1916

George Bellows. Preliminaries. 1916. Lithograph, composition: 15 13/16 x 19 5/8″ (40.2 x 49.8 cm); sheet: 18 1/2 x 22 5/8″ (47 x 57.4 cm). Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller; detail view at right

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.

Chris Marker. Chat écoutant la musique. 1990

Chris Marker. Chat écoutant la musique. 1990. Video (color, sound), 2:47 min. Installation view, The Museum of Modern Art, 2013. Gift of the artist. &copy 2013 Chris Marker. Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

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!

Libuše Niklová. Inflatables (left) in Designing Modern Women 1890–1990 and photo of the artist (right)

From left: Libuše Niklová. Buffalo, Elephant, and Giraffe inflatables. 1971–72. Plastic. Installation view in Designing Modern Women 1890–1990, The Museum of Modern Art, 2013; Photo of Libuše Niklová

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!

Designing Modern Women 1890-1990

Installation view of Designing Modern Women, 1890–1990

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.

Mike Kelley. Black Landscape. 2010

Mike Kelley. Black Landscape. 2010. Installation view in Mike Kelley, MoMA PS1, 2013

AS I’M SURE YOU CAN NOW SEE, EVEN ART AGREES THAT CATS ARE PURRFECT.

Comments

Nicely observed and wrought, Mr. Hart. One quibble: I believe that’s a Canidae vulpini Bellows’ boxing belle is sporting, not aFelis catus,

It’s true that cats are the greatest. So I’m glad to say I’m pretty sure the critter in the Bellows image is a fox stole.

miau

Love to paint them in a modern style
http://www.johnvanbrakel.com

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