Friday, August 14, 2015

Chapter One-Henri Matisse #1

Of Course He Is (Henri Matisse #1)


 When Henri Matisse painted La Danse (I) in 1909, for all its fame, it was only a compositional study for a more intensely colored final version to be completed the next year.

Against a simple, vivid background of blue and green, five ecstatic, naked — but not anatomically complete — female dancers whirl in a circle. Primitive in spirit, it’s often associated with Igor Stravinsky’s Dance of the Young Girls from The Rite of Spring, a ballet completed a few years later.

Can George be blamed for believing the dancers are excited about him, not just nature? He’d never been to the ballet or any pagan ritual.

Cat is Center of the Universe / © Deborah Julian
Out for a stroll one May afternoon in the wild, open fields of imagination, George stopped sniffing, and occasionally tasting, the grass, his attention stolen away by women without clothes moving to the flowing music of wind instruments.

Before he knew it, they were dancing around him. The world around them reduced itself to green grass and blue sky. In a perfect moment of joy, George became the center of the universe. 

I picked Cat is Center of the Universe to be first in this book of famous artists’ cats parodies because it hues so closely to the theme. 

Henri Matisse is recognized as one the greatest visual artists of the modern era. At home, he loved his cats, Minouche and Coussi. He posed for photographs with them, but there is nothing in the record that says their love for him had anything to do with art.

In Travels with George: Paris, George and Billy walk through the Louvre, unable to figure out people’s passion for paintings that don’t move and are not graced with interesting smells. Minouche and Coussi probably felt the same way.

Cat lovers joke that they are their pets’ servants. Cats, on the other hand, take it seriously.

In Cat is Center of the Universe, George demonstrates his preeminence, drifting off into dreamland while Matisse’s naked dancers spin by like galaxies and star clusters.