Art is a Cat

By kate on September 8th, 2006

Modern art has always been my favorite kind. (I’m using the term “modern art” very loosely here, to refer to all art created roughly from 1950-present, not just by the modernists.) I’d much rather go to a gallery and see what new artists are creating today rather than go through stuffy old SAM and see the same “old masters” yet again. When Steve and I were in Paris, we skipped the Louvre and went to the Pompidou instead. Locally, we’re members of the excellent Henry Art Gallery.

I’m hard pressed, though, to find the right words to explain why I like modern art so much, aside from saying I enjoy the mental/creative stimulation it gives me.

That’s why I enjoyed this article by Village Voice art critic Jerry Saltz. His main point is to criticize “academics and theorists who…belittle art as a gratuitous…merely beautiful…amusement” (I removed a bunch of extra words to highlight his point) but in the process he does a good job of describing the power of art.

He ends with this clever metaphor:

      Imagine calling two pets, one a dog, the other a cat. Asking a dog to do something is an amazing experience. You say, “Come here, Fido,” and Fido looks up, pads over, puts his head in your lap, and wags his tail. You’ve had a direct communication with another species; you and Fido are sharing a common, fairly literal language. Now imagine saying, “Come here, Snowflake” to the cat. Snowflake might glance over, walk to a nearby table, rub it, lie down, and look at you. There’s nothing direct about this. Yet something gigantic and very much like art has happened. The cat has placed a third object between you and itself. In order to understand the cat you have to be able to grasp this nonlinear, indirect, holistic, circuitous communication. In short, art is a cat.

I recommend reading the rest of the article as well (it’s not just clever metaphors).

Found via the Stranger Slog

Filed under: animals, art
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One Response to “Art is a Cat”

  1. anonymous Says:

    picked it up. The analogy was definitely what did it.

    Here is my irreverent treatment of it.

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