Henri Matisse La Danse with a Cat is an edited first chapter in Famous Artists’ Cats: The Book.

When Henri Matisse painted La Danse (I) in 1909, for all its fame, it was only a compositional study, A more intensely colored final version was planned for the next year.

Against a simple, solid background of blue and green, five ecstatic, naked — but not anatomically complete — female dancers whirl in a circle. Primitive in spirit, it’s often associated with Igor Stravinsky’s Dance of the Young Girls from The Rite of Spring, a ballet completed a few years later.

Can you blame a cat for loving the rites of spring?

Can George be blamed for dreaming that the dancers are actually excited about him, not just the joys of nature?

Out for a stroll one May afternoon in the wild, open fields of imagination, George stopped sniffing and occasionally tasting the grass. His attention was stolen by women without clothes moving to the flowing music from wind instruments.

Before he knew it, they danced around him. The world around is all green grass and blue sky. In a perfect moment of joy, George became the center of the universe. 

Getting to Henri Matisse La Danse with a Cat

I picked Cat is Center of the Universe to be first in this book of famous artists’ cats parodies because it hues so closely to the theme. 

Henri Matisse is one of the great visual artists of the modern era. At home, he loved his cats, Minouche and Coussi. He posed for photographs with them.

But there is nothing in the record that says their love for him had anything to do with art.

In Travels with George: Paris, George and Billy walk through the Louvre, unable to figure out people’s passion for paintings that don’t move and are not graced with interesting smells. Minouche and Coussi probably felt the same way. 

Cat lovers joke that they are their pets’ servants. Cats, on the other hand, take it seriously.

In Cat is Center of the Universe, George demonstrates his preeminence. He drifts into dreamland while Matisse’s naked dancers spin by like galaxies and star clusters.

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