Cats Behaving Badly
Cats and Dogs have provided an enduring theme for artists over the ages. In the beginning, images were used to commemorate
particular favourites and loved ones, and to document the physical characteristics of particular breeds and racing animals...
In late 19C the British artist, Louis Wain, became well known for producing images of cats in anthromorphic form. Quite often,
his pictures show young kittens behaving naughtily...
Louis Wain is, nowadays, used as an example of a kind of outsider art indicative of psychological instability. His later life was blighted by schizophrenia
...and some psycholgists have suggested that this was evidenced by the increasingly psychedelic colouring of his work.
I'm not sure about that.
The normative value of these images is much more interesting. The late 19C was a period of great political uncertainty and anxiety
...the extension of democratic rights and relative prosperity across the larger population provided a context for anxieties about criminal behaviour,
moral delinquency, and general misbehaviour...The political and philosophical background to the late 19C was distinguished by an increasingly
punitive form of social darwinism at home, and a heightened sense of economic anxiety in relation to global competition.
These feelings contributed to the frenzy associated with the outbreak of WW1.
By producing images of kittens behaving badly, artists were able to address these anxieties concerning the moral education of the working class,
and without causing offence. The pictures, reproduced in postcard form, are cute and funny
...reproduced and circulated as part of a mass media, their secondary meanings were slowly absorbed by the social body.
In Switzerland, social conformity is culturally entrenched as a way of coping with the relatively dangerous alpine environments and weather
...moral discipline and survival are closely connected.
In Zurich, the Dada movement began to provide for a critique of the kinds of moral discipline that had led to the outbreak of WW1.
The naughty kitten postcards published by Max Kunzli, c.1910, offer a form of comic anarchy, without the mess.
The colour printing is top quality too.
Note - Some of these themes may seem familiar from our own times.
all the above are £7.50 each
These two are £5 each
©rennies seaside modern
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