A Life in Art

Edouard Vuillard’s Office Cat

Edouard Vuillard’s Office Cat… Visual artists invent worlds to put their work in context. Creativity spills into the world where you, I and cats live…

 Edouard Vuillard, for example, lived in a particularly ripe time that included impressionism, cubism, fauvism, expressionism and more. It was an impressive list and an exciting time for any painter to be alive. 

By David Stone

But Vuillard dove deeper.

Like Pierre Bonnard, who you will meet later in this book, he was one of Les Nabis

Les Nabis?

Nabi means prophet in both Arabic and Hebrew. But more forerunners than profits, les Nabis were post-impressionists inspired by Paul Gauguin’s (Ready?) “synthetism.”  

None of that explains what got Sam involved, although Elmer Fudd might describe him as a very “synthetive cat.”

What got Sam’s attention was the last in an exhausting list of categories associated with Vuillard. Edouard Vuillard was an “intimist.”  

The intimists painted interiors like you’d see if you were a fly on the wall or as invisible as cats sometimes are.

Pierre Bonnard was also an intimist, but with more light bulbs and the curtains opened. If you visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, you find his paintings sharing rooms comfortably with Vuillard’s.  

Vuillard’s dark, fuzzy scenes show the business in the home of his mother, a dressmaker, a widow with whom he lived until age sixty. That’s when she died.

But then, Edouard Vuillard’s Office Cat Stepped In…

They are psychological, reflections of not just his domestic situation but his feelings about it.  Here again, this is not what interested Sam.

What interested him, or rather what bugged his feline sensibilities, were the staid surroundings, so quiet, nothing going on. Few cats enjoy the pleasures of staid as, for example, a turtle might. 

Fidgety one day, Sammy decided that Vuillard’s mother’s office was too much of a still life, the venue of a fuss budget.

Bouncing up on a table inside the frame, he seized on a pile of mail carefully stacked alongside some fabric samples and paperwork. 

It just felt right to begin evacuating the mail, paperwork and samples, one at a time.

In The Office Cat, you see him pausing just long enough to look to the floor, appreciating his work in progress.

 

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