Louis Wain and cats: art seen through schizophrenia
Paintings of felines crossed by a mental disorder.
The writer H. G. Wells once said that the cats in England that do not resemble the cats painted by Louis Wainare ashamed of themselves.
No wonder: Louis Wain was one of the most reputable artists of the Victorian era, and everyone knew and adored his funny representations of cats acting and expressing themselves as human beings..
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Louis Wain: journey into the work of a cat-obsessed artist
However, Wain has not gone down in history simply for being a good painter. It is also one of the classic examples used to show how schizophrenia changes people, a mental illness that could have been pictorially captured in the development of his latest paintings.
His fondness for cats
Louis Wain liked to draw animals since he was young. He never missed an opportunity to create representations of the living creatures he saw and the bucolic scenes in which they were involved. However, it was when his wife fell ill with Cancer that he began drawing what would characterize his work. Cats.
Specifically, cats adopting human attitudes and activities. At first, of course, timidly: the felines he painted at this stage have the anatomical characteristics of ordinary cats, but they try to adapt their bodies to human chores, such as reading the newspaper or smoking. Wain drew these cats to cheer up his wife in her last years of life, and to do so he resorted to portraying his cat Peter in somewhat ridiculous situations.
Louis Wain began drawing and painting clearly anthropomorphic cats shortly after his thirtieth birthday.. In these images, with a markedly comic tone, the cats were a means by which their creator caricatured the English society of the time: cats waving to each other, smoking, organizing drinking parties, playing golf.... In fact, Wain used to go to crowded places, such as squares or restaurants, and portrayed the people he saw as if they were felines acting just like the people he was seeing.
Almost everything Louis Wain drew had such a humorous character that the painter did not have to change his style when he had to illustrate some children's books, also using the figure of anthropomorphic animals.
The stage of decadence
Louis Wain was famous and admired throughout England, but he was far from rich. he was far from rich.. In fact, he made very little money from his own work, since he sometimes worked practically for free, and he also used part of the money to support his family. Soon he began to have so many economic problems that he had to emigrate to the United States, from where he returned even poorer.
The situation became more complicated when Wain began to show symptoms of mental pathology. Although the development of psychiatry at the beginning of the 20th century did not allow to know much about the painter's mental illness, today it is believed that Louis Wain developed schizophrenia. it is believed that Louis Wain developed schizophrenia, although some researchers point out that it is more likely to be schizophrenia.although some researchers point out that it is more likely that he met the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
His internment in a frenopathic
Wain first entered a psychiatric institution in the mid-1920s, when his behavior had become so erratic and occasionally aggressive that he had difficulty even relating to his inner circle.when his behavior had become so erratic and occasionally aggressive that he had difficulty even relating to people in his inner circle. However, this internment center was in such a bad state that several important personalities, among them H. G. Wells and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom himself, intervened so that he would be sent to a better place.
Thus, Louis Wain arrived at Bethlem Royal Hospital, a place that had a garden and a happy colony of cats. He would spend the last 15 years of his life there.
Journey into the abstract
The Louis Wain of Bethlem Royal Hospital was, of course, different from the affable painter who liked to mingle with the people and that all the newspapers of the country had pampered. But But it was not only he who had changed: his work, it seemed, had also changed..
The dating of his paintings that were done years after his death show a clear pattern in his paintings, ranging from figurative art featuring animals acting as people to very abstract combinations of lines and colors. ranging from figurative art featuring animals acting as people to very abstract combinations of lines and colors that are hardly reminiscent of anything that exists on our plane of reality. and hardly reminiscent of anything that exists on our plane of reality. In these paintings appear kaleidoscopic forms, a wide variety of colors and fractal or symmetrical motifs. They look like paintings from another planet, or based on the mythological folklore of some Asian culture.
A pictorial work that shows us the reality of people suffering from schizophrenia.
That is why Louis Wain's work is often used as an example of how the way of perceiving reality progresses in some people with schizophrenia.
However, and in case it is true that these abstract paintings correspond exclusively to the time when schizophrenia had greatly limited Wain's abilities, we can also take this story as an example of self-improvement, we can also take this story as an example of self-improvement.. Art can also bear witness to the creative impulse of people, and although the paintings of the English painter may have varied incredibly to the point of appealing to logics and rules of representation that only he understood, they are nonetheless proof of a very sharp artistic genius that continued to develop even under the harshest conditions.