Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The Alfred Mainzer Company and the Dressed Animal Art of Eugen Hartung, a Critical Analysis
My own feelings about the dressed cat paintings of Eugen Hartung? Sorry to say, definitely mixed. On the one hand, they are beautifully composed and skillfully executed. He obviously possessed a massive amount of artistic talent. Great time and care were taken with every painting - the detail is a sheer delight, and is the thing most quoted as a favorite characteristic of Hartung's dressed cat paintings. And perhaps their best feature is their action, humour, and suspense - every painting without exception tells a story, which is key in creating a successful work of art. They are without a doubt a joy to behold. On the other hand, however, I can't look at his work without seeing paintings of PEOPLE. Being an artist myself, I sense he often worked from photos of people individually and/or in groups in action poses, and simply substituted cat heads for human heads. I think their human-style bodies are far too literal and an unsettling - even unnerving - contrast to their animal heads. Unlike Hartung, most other "dressed animal" artists will keep the NATURAL SHAPE OF THE ANIMAL. A mole by Beatrix Potter may be wearing a vest and spats, but he will still be shaped like a mole. The effect is more believable (if a dressed animal can be believable!), more charming in its naturalness, and considerably less disconcerting than a body with human proportions and an animal's head. Quite honestly, Hartung's dressed cats kinda creep me out! I've posted two cards in which this seems, to me, to be especially evident. What do you think?
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