18 February, 2010

The Decline of Louis Wain

Louis Wain is one of my favourite classic artists, but not so much for his actual art, but for the evolution of his art. Wain lived in England during the latter part of the 19th century, and found fame by focusing on one subject: cats.

Wain began by drawing naturalistic portraits of cats, such as seen here:

Very nicely done, but very ordinary. As Wain's career progressed, he began to draw anthropomorphic cats, walking on two legs, engaging in what can be described as human behaviour. For example:

Slightly eccentric, but still harmless. At this point in his life, Louis Wain was hit by several real-life tragedies, such as financial strife and the death of his mother. His mental state started to deteriorate and he developed schizophrenia. He would ramble incomprehensibly, wander the streets at night, randomly rearrange furniture in his house. But still, he kept drawing cats. His mental illness however, manifested itself in his art. Just watch:

Bizarre, but thats not the end of it. Eventually his family had Louis institutionalised in an asylum. However, Louis continued to draw cats.
Look at this. It is actually a cat!

1 comment:

  1. That golf/croquet one is probably worth a post all on its own. I can't stop looking at it.

    The cats are kind of devoid of emotion, just "playing some leisure sports" - and for some reason that makes them all the more startlingly smart-looking. - do you get what i mean?