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The psychedelic madness of Louis Wain’s cats
10.29.2014
04:18 pm

Topics:
Animals
Art
Unorthodox

Tags:
cats
Louis Wain
Schizophrenia

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Though I do prefer dogs, I cannot but help but love Louis Wain’s cats—those beautiful playful wide-eyed felines that slowly evolve (disintegrate?) into psychedelic creatures of the electric night. These paintings have inspired considerable speculation with the oft-cited suggestion that Wain’s paintings show his gradual psychosis and descent into schizophrenia.

Louis Wain was born into a working class family in Victorian England in 1860, and died just prior to the Second World War in 1939. He was born with a cleft palate and was kept off school during a large part of his childhood. When he did eventually go to school, he spent most of his time playing truant, wandering the city, people watching. However, he must have been clever for he attended the West London School of Art and became a teacher. When his father died, Louis became the chief breadwinner and decided to make his living as an illustrator for the various top line London magazines. He had his own style and wit, and produced satirical cartoons and illustrations of cats in various human situations: playing golf, singing opera, having a tea party, singing carols, eating cake. He explained the inspiration for his work:

I take a sketch-book to a restaurant, or other public place, and draw the people in their different positions as cats, getting as near to their human characteristics as possible. This gives me doubly nature, and these studies I think my best humorous work.

Yet despite his success, Wain was always in financial difficulties—some of his own making, but most by those business people around him who exploited, used and literally stole from him.

When he was thirty, his sister was committed to an insane asylum—it was the first rumble of the fate that was to befall Wain. He continued providing for his mother and sisters, but he spent long seasons in asylums caused by his psychosis and schizophrenia.

News of his circumstances were publicized by H.G. Wells, who organized the funds to move Wain into a nicer hospital with a colony of cats, along with Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald who personally intervened on Wain’s behalf.

There has been some speculation that Wain’s schizophrenia was caused by toxoplasma gondii—a parasite found in cat’s excreta. Whatever began the illness, Wain was incarcerated in various asylums and mental hospitals for years at a time. The changes to his life were reflected in his art. His paintings of cats took on a radiance and vitality never before seen: the fur sharp and colorful, the eyes brilliant, and a wired sense of unease of disaster about to unfold.

But these paintings look normal compared to the psychedelic fractals and spirals that followed. Though these are beautiful images, startling, stunning, shocking—they suggest a mind that has broken reality down to its atomic level.

Though it is believed that Louis Wain’s paintings followed a direct line towards schizophrenia, it is actually not known in which order Wain painted his pictures. Like his finances, Wain’s mental state was erratic throughout his life, which may explain the changes back and forth between cute and cuddly and abstract and psychedelic. No matter, the are beautiful, kaleidoscopic, disturbing and utterly mesmerizing.

Beginning in the late 60s, Wain’s work came into fashion again and has become sought after by collectors. In 2009 Nick Cave, a Wain enthusiast since the late 70s, organized the first showing of Wain’s work outside of England when he exhibited his work as part of the All Tomorrow’s Parties concert series in Australia. Artist Tracy Emin and musician David Tibet are also prominent collectors of Wain’s work.

For images from Louis Wain’s children’s books check here and for more cats check here.
 
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More of Louis Wain’s fabulous cats, after the jump…
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Mourka the dancing cat, pre-Internet trailblazer for today’s ‘cheezburger cats’
10.03.2014
08:36 am

Topics:
Animals
Books
Dance

Tags:
cats
George Balanchine
Mourka


 
As the 1964 book Mourka: Autobiography of a Cat amply demonstrates, cats did not need the Internet to become nationwide sensations; they have been, er, catnip to content providers for decades.
 

 
Mourka was an “alley cat” who belonged to the legendary choreographer George Balanchine. A picture of Balanchine “training” Mourka appeared in LIFE magazine, and the picture proved so popular that a book deal was quickly inked. The author, Tanaquil Le Clerq, was Balanchine’s wife, and the photographer was Martha Swope. This text is from the dust cover of the book:
 

Mourka, an extraordinary alley cat is one of famed choreographer George Balanchine’s prize pupils. He has learned to do entre-chats, pas de chats, and even a grand jeté. When photographer Martha Swope caught Mourka doing one of his spectacular leaps, Life printed the memorable photo and Mourka’s reputation was made instantly for millions of Americans. Here, Miss Swope’s pictures and Miss Le Clerq’s text convey his many exploits and suggest that Mourka may well be the most accomplished feline in the world. [This, of course, was written decades before the advent of Maru.]

Mourka, a native New Yorker, shares a large apartment on the upper West Side with Mr. and Mrs. Balanchine. He spends his summers in Weston, Connecticut, where he indulges in his favorite hobby, bug-watching, and such favorite foods as asparagus, potatoes, peas, and sour cream.

Ballerina Tanaquil Le Clerq, the wife of George Balanchine, was born in Paris and brought to this country at an early age. She won a scholarship to the School of American Ballet at the age of eleven and later danced many leading roles with the New York City Ballet. In 1956, while on a dance tour of Europe, she was stricken with polio which halted her dancing career. Now that Mourka is published, she is at work on her next book, a gourmet cook book to be published by Stein and Day in 1965.

 

Balanchine training Mourka
 
Balanchine put in considerable time “training” Mourka, and on the occasion when Mourka was obliged to present a command performance for the composer Igor Stravinsky, it was the only time that a ballet performance ever gave Balanchine butterflies. According to Balanchine: A Biography by Bernard Taper:
 

While [Balanchine] was away, a friend or Tanaquil’s mother stayed with her, or she often chose to remain alone in the apartment, kept company by Mourka, their white-and-ginger-colored cat, a pampered and much admired creature. Balanchine had trained this cat to perform brilliant jetés and tours en l’air; he used to say that at last he had a body worth choreographing for. He talked of presenting Mourka publicly, in a program titled—in parody of the revolutionary program he had presented as a youth in Russia—“The Evolution of Ballet: From Petipa to Petipaw.” Once, at a party at his apartment during the Christmas season, Stravinsky asked to see Mourka perform. Guests present later said that was the only time they had ever seen Balanchine nervous before a performance.

 

 

 

 

 
via Awful Library Books
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Dictator’ cat scratch posts and litter boxes
08.25.2014
10:38 am

Topics:
Amusing
Animals
Politics

Tags:
Vladimir Putin
cats
Kim Jong-un


 
OMG! What a fantastical idea… ‘dictator’ kitteh scratching posts and litter boxes brought to you by The Pussycat Riot. (They aren’t all “dictators” per se, but more “strong men” types who censor the Internet.)

Sadly, the scratching posts are bit out of my price range. They’re selling ‘em for £4,500.00 a pop. I was eyeing that Putin one. According to their website each post was “painstakingly handcrafted by a team of artists and took over 200 hours to complete.”

But-but, never fear, as the litter boxes are only £3.00. Your cat might not be able to afford claw out Putin’s eyes, but practically any kitty from any socio economic group can take a shit on him, Kim Jong Un, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Nicolás Maduro Moros of Venezuelan and Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.


 

 

 

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Samuel Beckett Motivational Cat Posters’
07.31.2014
02:25 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Animals
Heroes

Tags:
Samuel Beckett
cats


 
At some point, you knew this would happen, didn’t you? No one asked for it, but here it is, a Tumblr completely devoted to exploring that place in the Venn diagram that intersects the “I Can Has Cheezburger?” demographic and admirers of Irish avant garde writer Samuel Beckett.

That’s right, photos of cute cats with captions explaining their bleak and intolerable existence!


 

 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Ayn Rand ‘objectively’ explains to ‘Cat Fancy’ that cats are awesome, 1966
06.16.2014
05:47 am

Topics:
Animals
Books
Thinkers

Tags:
Ayn Rand
cats

Ayn Rand
 
It’s difficult to think of something—anything—that could endear Ayn Rand to me, but the news that she was a cat person certainly would be in that unlikely ballpark.

That said, I’d peg this curious missive she sent to Cat Fancy magazine on March 20, 1966, as an obvious hoax if it wasn’t right there in the volume dedicated to her correspondence.
 

Dear Miss Smith,

You ask whether I own cats or simply enjoy them, or both. The answer is: both. I love cats in general and own two in particular.

You ask: “We are assuming that you have an interest in cats, or was your subscription strictly objective?” My subscription was strictly objective because I have an interest in cats. I can demonstrate objectively that cats are of a great value, and the carter issue of Cat Fancy magazine can serve as part of the evidence. (“Objective” does not mean “disinterested” or indifferent; it means corresponding to the facts of reality and applies both to knowledge and to values.)

I subscribed to Cat Fancy primarily for the sake of the picture, and found the charter issue very interesting and enjoyable.

 
It’s especially great that even when writing Cat Fancy about her fondness for cats, she still can’t help getting into a nitpicky semantic debate over the word “objective”! Cat Fancy apparently set out the bait, and she went for it, like, well, a cat goes after a sardine…...
 
Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand swooning over the heroic properties of the American industrialist with an especially adorable Objectivist pal
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Incredible cat portraits by Eldar Zakirov
06.06.2014
06:39 am

Topics:
Animals
Art

Tags:
cats
Eldar Zakirov

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I prefer dogs, but I’m sure I could find some room on the wall to hang one of these magnificent portraits of cats in regal attire by Uzbek artist Eldar Zakirov. I’d probably put it next to favorite dogs playing poker picture, but I’d be worried they might fight when I’m not looking.
 
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Via Nerdcore
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Heroic cat saves little boy from vicious dog attack
05.14.2014
10:22 am

Topics:
Animals
Heroes

Tags:
cats


 
YouTuber Roger Triantafilo uploaded this incredible video today of what appears to be a pit bull mix mixed-breed dog attacking his young son who was on his tricycle. What you don’t expect to happen is a cat. Yes, a cat happens. Just watch.

My cat defends my son during a vicious dog attack and runs the dog off before he can do additional damage. Thankfully, my son is fine!

Glad the little boy is doing well.

 
h/t reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Video: Cat fight nearly turns into a Bruce Lee movie
11.08.2011
09:00 am

Topics:
Amusing
Animals

Tags:
cats
Bruce Lee
Karate
Ninja

 
Here’s 15 seconds of a cat displaying his badass self.
 

 
(via KMFW )

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Second craziest headline ever?
09.12.2011
02:17 pm

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
BBC
AIDS
cats
Glowing


 
Taken in conjunction with “Gordon Ramsay Sex Dwarf eaten by Badger” which Tara posted earlier today, it looks like the news has been getting pretty weird lately. But Tara and I have been discussing which of these two headlines are better. She still opts for the “Gordon Ramsay Sex Dwarf…”  strapline, while I still plump for this beauty from the BBC. I did some headline math, which looks like this:

Headline 1 (Ramsay dwarf) : sex/death/disability/celebrity/animal  

versus

Headline 2 (AIDS cats): implied gay sex/death/mutation/animals

So it would look like Headline 1 has it. BUT that does not take into account the “kittens” factor of headline 2 (which usually spells instant win), plus the fact that it is actually good news. I dunno, I’m torn…

What do you think, readers?

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Paw ‘em on the glass: The Cat Scan


 
Have access to a cat and a scanner? Then you too could join the party at The Cat Scan! Please note - no kittehs were harmed in the making of this post.

 

 

 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Cats playing a Mini Theremin


 
The Theremin is a unique musical instrument that, according to WIkipedia;

“[was] originally known as the aetherphone/etherophone, thereminophone or termenvox/thereminvox [and] is an early electronic musical instrument controlled without discernible physical contact from the player. It is named after its Russian inventor, Professor Léon Theremin, who patented the device in 1928.”

A cat is a four legged feline animal that, according to Wikipedia;

“[is] also known as the domestic cat or housecat to distinguish it from other felines and felids, [and] is a small, furry, domesticated, carnivorous mammal that is valued by humans for its companionship and for its ability to hunt vermin and household pests. Cats have been associated with humans for at least 9,500 years.”

According to WIkipedia, the word “awesome” means: “...that which inspires awe.”
 
IT’S CATS PLAYING WITH A FREAKIN THEREMIN!!
 

 
BONUS!
You can see the “prequel” (Cats and Mini Theremin Part 1) here.
 
EXTRA BONUS!
If you were not aware of the existence of these Mini Theremins, they come in kit form, are cheap ($30) and look relatively easy to build. You can purchase a kit (and watch a video demonstrating the building process) at Maker Shed.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Meet eHarmony’s Debbie, she REALLY loves cats
06.09.2011
08:55 am

Topics:
Amusing
Animals
Hysteria
Kooks

Tags:
cats
eHarmony


 
Debbie says, “I really love cats. And I just want to hug all of them, but I can’t, ’cause it’s crazy. I can’t hug every cat.”

I watched this video several times trying to figure out if it was real or a put-on? I honestly couldn’t tell.

This is one of the most hilarious things I’ve seen in some time. I suspected it was, you know, “authentic” but when I asked my husband to watch it, he had the same reaction as I did. He thought it “seemed real” but that it was too hard to tell.

So then we watched another one of her videos. Yep, she’s not being ironic… I guess she just really loves cats.

 
(via TDW)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Cats Quote Charlie Sheen
02.26.2011
10:21 am

Topics:
Amusing
Current Events
Kooks
Thinkers

Tags:
cats
Charlie Sheen

image
 
Charlie Sheen should start a spoken word night… I’d be there. 

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More Charlie Sheen quotes after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Marijuana and kittehs
08.04.2010
09:39 am

Topics:
Amusing
Drugs

Tags:
marijuana
cats

image
 
Oh noes!
 
(via Daily What)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment