A Life in Art

Parody: Which Is Really Picasso’s Cat Before A Mirror?

Picasso’s Cat Before A Mirror… You’d have an interesting time and very likely get lost, if you embarked on a hike through Pablo Picasso’s mind, like this cat did.

From Famous Artists’ Cats: The Book

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

By David Stone

Assorted Ideas, Large & Small

There’s no guarantee of a pleasant experience; in fact, you could probably take for granted that mostly it wouldn’t be.  

Picasso was one of the most brilliantly original artists . From cubism to modernism, he was knee-deep at the creation of movements that might never have gotten far off the ground, if not energized by his talents.   

Pablo Picasso's Cat Before A Mirror
Cat art parody by Deborah Julian: Pablo Picasso’s Cat Before A Mirror

Pick out any painting by Georges Braque, Picasso’s co-inventor of cubism.

You can look at it for a long time. But you won’t find anything in Braque’s style that might revolutionize the art world.   

What he did, in partnership with Picasso, was create images on canvas that showed viewers what an object looked like from multiple angles and dimensions, coalesced on a flat surface. They could just as easily have painted flowers in a pretty glass jar, but they didn’t. 

Pablo Picasso amazed, showing us the world in way we would never otherwise conceive it, expanding our awareness by altering space and time.

What blew the lid off was when Picasso began slicing and dicing human psyches as if they were banjos and clown costumes. Not only did he aspire to give us a fuller picture on a single canvas, he did it with raw insight into what makes each of us different.  

First, Marie Therese saw herself, then Pablo Picasso’s Cat went to the mirror…

Picasso recreated our strengths and weaknesses, our pride and our fear… And so much more and got it all on one flat surface. Unlike the expressionists, Picasso’s pictures always looked like they might be about something recognizable.  

In Girl Before a Mirror, he portrays Marie Therese Walter, his young lover, pondering her own reflection. There are a million ways to interpret this painting. All might be right, but one constant is that the mirror reflection isn’t much like the girl standing in front of it.  

The Marie Therese that Picasso sees is soft and bright. The reflection she sees is dark, sad and even a little foreboding.

To me, it looks like she, at least in this moment, sees an ugliness about herself that defies the reality that others see. An alternative interpretation is that she’s projecting herself aging in an unattractive way.  

Cats know how beautiful they are and don’t get hung up on the vanity of it. Vanity implies doubt, right? Cats have no doubts.   

To complete Deborah Julian‘s Picasso’s Cat Before a Mirror, Sam had to climb a stool to get a look at himself in the mirror. Even projected into cubism, he seems pleased with what he sees.

Or he might be wondering who the beautiful cat behind the glass is.   

True to Picasso, he shows us himself from multiple angles, all at once.

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