Epilogue - Robert Lowell
Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, 1657, Johannes Vermeer:
Epilogue - Robert Lowell
Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, 1657, Johannes Vermeer:
So I had a little modeling company the other night while posing for my friend Bruce in his studio – his adorable smoky grey cat Ika When Bruce has a model over, Ika (pronouned “EE-ka”) wanders into the studio seeking attention. She meows, jumps up, and investigates the naked person on the platform. It’s really funny. I even Tweeted about it. Cats are curious by nature, of course, and Ika wasn’t holding back on Thursday night. She treated me to some luxurious rubbing, nuzzling, and inquisitive staring. It was a very sweet display of affection and I enjoyed it even though I was trying to hold still for Bruce. I generally kept my composure, although a noticeable smile formed on my face as I felt the gentle nudges on my back, soft cat hair against my bare skin, and soothing purring vibrations. By the way, Ika and I are now having a torrid love affair
Cats make wonderful art subjects mainly because they are fairly easy to draw due to their characteristic lines and shapes: small head, triangle ears, curvy spine, big eyes. Heck even a non-artist like me can capture the basic look of a cat. In terms of color, cats offer an amazing variety: red tabbies, calicos, touches of white, patches of black, light grey, charcoal grey, golds, browns, solids, stripes, you name it. Artists throughout history have depicted cats for their visual appeal and it’s easy to see why.
What I love most about cats is their charisma. Cats are seductive. They possess a kind of magnetism you don’t see in many other animals. They move elegantly, balance effortlessly, and have a palpable sense of self. They also have lightning-fast reflexes which are very impressive. Cats walk into a room like they own the place, assert their territory, and fully expect to be worshipped. At the same time, they expect boundaries to be respected. Have you ever had a cat engage with you for play and then you go too far? They give you a confrontational look like, “Whoa, whoa, easy there. Back off, buddy. Remember, I call the shots here!”. And they will saunter away once they’ve had enough of you. Just try to mess with a cat’s tail and you will be promptly admonished. But when a cat has its guard down, as Ika did the other night, they are warm, lovable, and responsive. Few things in life feel as nice as a cat affectionately nuzzling you.
In this painting The Bridge by Carl Larsson he brings together elements of landscape, perspective, and a figure. And yet the black cat, looking back into the distance, seems to stand out as the star. Its presence almost upstages the woman in orange. A beautiful painting overall.
Renoir has never been one of my favorite painters, but he did a fine job in this portrait of Julie Manet with a cat. Julie Manet was the daughter of Berthe Morisot and Eugene Manet, brother of Edouard Manet. Renoir seems to have given more expression to the cat’s face than to Julie’s:
Another young girl with a cat, this one by Antoine Jean Bail. Good action and personality in this one, although the cat seems less than amused by the feather teasing. He looks pissed!
German Expressionist Franz Marc appreciated the artistic appeal of cats. He gave feline-like attributes to the figure here in Girl With a Cat II from 1912:
A large, roughneck cat grabs for the fish in The Cook and the Cat, by Theodule Augustine Ribot, 19th century French painter. That cat is clearly a ruffian and even the cook won’t mess with it:
Giovanni Boldini used watercolor for this loose, effective piece A Lady with a Cat. I like the strokes and the color scheme:
I’ve noticed that women are more often posed with cats than men. I wonder why? Maybe because cats prefer to sit on our laps This black cat looks nice and cozy on this ballerina’s tutu. The painting, by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, is appropriately titled Ballerina with a Black Cat:
There are few female painters of note from the 17th century Dutch period, unfortunately. Judith Leyster was one. In this painting by her, A Boy and a Girl with a Cat and Eel, the expression of the cat is pretty hilarious. It’s thinking, “What the hell am I doing here with these wackos?”.
For this post I used only works of cats with people, rather than cats alone. But cat imagery is abundant in the art world, and they can be found both as main subjects and supporting players. Bruce did not include Ika in his drawings the other night, as he is exclusively a figure man. But I didn’t mind one bit having her companionship on the modeling platform, whisker tickles and all
Guess what everybody? I am now on Twitter! I may be avoiding Facebook like the plague, but I have nothing against Twitter. I’ve only been on it for two days, but so far it’s pretty fun! For those of you who are also on Twitter please follow and I will happily reciprocate! And for those of you not on Twitter you can still read my Tweets – heaven knows you don’t want to miss one word of my astounding brilliance, incisive wit, and endearing charm Ok, maybe not.
It’s a positively gorgeous August day here in NYC and I want to go running before work tonight. But I quickly want to mention some upcoming fall exhibits at MoMA which look pretty spectacular. The first one is a deKooning Retrospective which opens on September 18th. The other one is Diego Rivera Murals, but that doesn’t open until November. I am a big fan of Rivera’s work so I’m especially excited for that show. If you appreciate Rivera like I do, check out this excellent image gallery.
Diego Rivera, Bather of Tehuantepec, 1923:
Ah, the workshop went really, really well. It was long posing of course, but it was a great pleasure working with Dennis Cheaney. And the class was so sweet! Such nice people. They were the types who, if they were leaving the building on a break, generously asked me if I wanted coffee or something from outside. They also consulted me before they adjusted the AC, and regularly asked me how I was holding up with the strenuous posing. Art models especially know what I’m talking about. We love those warm, considerate classes. Makes for such a pleasant working environment. It’s lovely to walk into the studio in the morning and be greeted with “Hi Claudia!” and receive a round of “Thank you so much!” at the end
Now for the negative. Just one negative. My back hurts But hey that’s part of the job. I need to do some serious stretching. I’m sorry I have nothing more to post about. I had a singular focus week, and now it’s over. So I shall rest and be back asap!
In honor of backs, here is an unusually smooth, fair-skinned one. Quite different from my back which is a bit more defined (and bony) and currently has tan lines and the remnants of sunburn peeling. Probably not what William Merritt Chase would have preferred for a painting such as this. Back of a Nude, 1888:
Hey gang. I’m posing for a figure workshop at the New York Academy of Art this whole week – an excellent booking for a model to have in the middle of August. This month is usually an idle, no-work wasteland, which is why I’m super grateful that the school gave me the gig. That’s 30 hours of posing and 30 hours of pay. Not bad. Workshops are intensive for both artists and models, but I enjoy them. The instructor is Dennis Cheaney and we had a great first day working together. Nice guy and attentive teacher. The students are going to learn a lot for sure.
We haven’t had a Music Monday in a while, so here we go. I’ve chosen something that I think is appropriate because 1) I am working, 2) I am modeling for a workshop, and 3) I worked out yesterday <— see how I tied it all together? Aren’t I just so clever?
Anyway, here’s the one and only Jackie Wilson, aka the “Black Elvis”, performing his song “Baby Workout” on the old TV variety program Shindig, in 1965. This is fun, energetic, classic 60s revelry, and they keep it going right through the closing credits. If only I had the energy myself right now to get up and dance, but I’m too tired from working the workshop to dance to Baby Workout. Ok I’ll stop with the work stuff!
I just spent a lovely afternoon at The Cloisters with my good friend Fred Hatt. It was a great day of looking at art, taking pictures and enjoying the woodland sanctuary found in the northernmost section of Manhattan island.
For those of you who are gardeners, like me, you know how even the most well-tended plants become ratty and worn looking toward the end of the summer and lose some of their earlier vitality and vigor. Well the gardening team at the Cloisters must know all the horticultural secrets because their perennials, herbs, and flowering shrubs are still looking pretty damn good in mid-August.
If it’s any shade of purple, I will photograph it. My favorite color! Deep purple, light purple, lavender or violet, bring it on
I love these maidenhair ferns. They look wonderful in pots throughout the garden cafe:
This was my favorite plant of the day. It’s called Fuller’s Teasel. I actually like the thorny stems and prickly “flowers”. This plant is an unapologetic individualist. It knows who it is and proclaims it with confidence. Rock on Teasel!
By the way, I did take pictures of the medieval artwork at The Cloisters – yes, they have ART there too! – but those will come in future posts. Until then, this squirrel critter says, “Thank you for visiting Museworthy. Now give me a nut!”.
I think Museworthy could use a little sprucing up, don’t you agree? Nothing major. It’s just that I haven’t made any changes in the sidebar/links in a really long time, nor have I updated the About page, Events and News, or introduced any new features. I have been lazy and neglectful But I’m on top of it now and have some ideas I’m considering. Also, reader suggestions are welcome, so don’t hesitate to share!
Right now I’m in the mood for some John William Waterhouse, so we have the beautiful The Lady Clare, from 1900. This painting was inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s wonderful poem in which a young woman decides she cannot enter into a marriage on false pretenses regarding her birth station. Lord Ronald had proposed to her, and given her a white doe, thinking she was of aristocratic lineage. When Lady Clare is told that she was really just the child of a poor nurse who substituted her as a newborn for the real baby Lady Clare who died in infancy, Clare is compelled to reveal the truth to Lord Ronald. The nurse implores her not to tell him, to just go ahead with the marriage and keep her mouth shut about the whole thing. But Lady Clare could not in good conscience carry such a secret for the rest of her life. She needed to tell Lord Ronald the truth – that she was not an heiress, but “a beggar born”, and let the chips fall where they may. How do you think the story ends? Read this illustrated version of the poem and find out
Museworthy friends!!!! Hello my darlings! I have returned! And I miss Nantucket already Our family vacation was absolutely, positively wonderful. One of the best ever, and much needed by all of us.
I took pictures, pictures, and more pictures. So for those of you who enjoy looking at vacation photos, mine are posted on my Flickr. I still have a few more to upload but there’s plenty to see. An abundance of cool beach scenes.
This post title, by the way, is taken from a t-shirt I bought just before we boarded the ferry to come home. So many Nantucket tees to choose from, but I really liked the one that read “Somewhere in the Atlantic . . . Nantucket”, with a little map of the island. That’s exactly how it feels to be there. The islanders and the visitors wouldn’t want it any other way. There are whales, sharks, seals, lobsters, cormorants, and the big blue undulating Atlantic, and then – almost incidentally – an island in their midst called Nantucket
Here is a small slideshow that chronicles our first day. It’s called “Jeep Ride to Sconset Beach”. I’m not in any of these photos because I was behind the camera, so the main players are my brother Chris (handsome guy in the white shirt), my sister-in-law Gayle (great gal in purple shirt), my Mom (terrific woman in blue bathing suit, also known as “Grammy”), and the star of the show, my niece Olivia (adorable, cavorting 8 year-old who LOVES the camera). I would not fullscreen this, as the slide transitions become rough. So watch it here in the blog post. Images are cleaner. Or watch it on Flickr
One of my favorite things to photograph is colorful beach umbrellas against the sky. Here’s one from beautiful Nantucket, “Umbrellas and Seagull”: