Pierre Bonnard Cats, an Impressionist Afternoon
By David Stone
Bonnard is one of my favorites. So are cats. I wish they’d gotten together more often.
Bonnard enhanced his artwork is by taking photographs he could work from slowly and deliberately, instead of relying on live models.
The results are lush, colorful paintings that show how his methods gave his brilliance free rein to create.
The White Cat is his best known cat painting. An early work, though, finished before his colorist abilities blossomed. It’s still shows a wonderful awareness of what it means to be a cat.
Later, Bonnard depicted his family’s pets, then thriving in his country home. Most often, the dogs got the best of the show, but if you’re lucky enough to spend as much time looking at Bonnard’s work as I have , you find cats inside the tapestry-like pools of mingling colors too.
It’s all in the nature of the beasts. Dogs are out there brazenly looking for attention while cats make you earn it. Or maybe they shared a belief that, in photography’s earliest days, an image captured sucked away their souls.
Cats certainly don’t feel that way now. They must have gotten over their inhibitions. Almost every one of them I know is either a camera hog or indifferent in pursuit of something grander, like string.
After Lunch with Pierre Bonnard
The “truth” is that Deborah began creating her Famous Artists’ Cats as a way of easing domestic tensions.
Working as a fine art photographer, she battled in turf wars with her cats, George and Billy, retarding her ability to create, print, cut and mat her street photography. Both found her efforts so interesting, the needed to help or at least inspect the activity closely.
At the intersection with her education in Art History, she asked herself, what if famous artists had my cats?
A simple question launched a cat art project that has gone on to include multiple parodies on Matisse, Degas, Lichtenstein and Bonnard as well as Monet, Van Gogh and Cézanne. Among them, After Lunch with Pierre Bonnard is one of the best.
Deborah makes full use of the richness in Bonnard’s colorful palette as she finds a place at the table for Sam and Billy. The family has finished eating and gone off for strolls and naps, leaving the palace in the hands, excuse me, paws of the cats.
The color and composition in the picture are thrilling to look at. As wall art, it’s as interesting to me as the non-parody artwork by Rauschenberg, Boborelus and Popoius we already have hanging in our home.
What kinds of art do you enjoy seeing on your own walls?