Henrietta Shore (1880-1963) My Cat 26 1/4 x 26 1/4in (Painted circa 1930-1935.)

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Lot 88
Henrietta Shore
(1880-1963)
My Cat 26 1/4 x 26 1/4in

Sold for US$ 125,075 inc. premium
Henrietta Shore (1880-1963)
My Cat
signed 'H. Shore' (lower right)
oil on canvas
26 1/4 x 26 1/4in
Painted circa 1930-1935.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Collection of Penny Perlmutter, San Francisco, California.
    Private collection, Southern California.

    Exhibited
    Monterey, Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art, Henrietta Shore, A Retrospective: 1900-1963, December 6, 1986 - January 25, 1987, no. 34.

    Literature
    R. Aikin and R. Lorenz, Henrietta Shore, A Retrospective: 1900-1963, Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art Association, 1986, pp. 61, 68.

    We are grateful to Patricia Trenton, Ph.D., Independent Art Historian/Curator, for her assistance with this essay.

    Art critics had forecasted Canadian-born Henrietta Shore would be enshrined in the Pantheon of American art along with her fellow-artist Georgia O'Keeffe, but unfortunately at age 83 she died destitute and forgotten in a mental institution in San Jose, California. Shore also had been a fellow student of O'Keeffe's at the Art Student's League of New York. In 1923, when both artists simultaneously exhibited abstracted nature scenes in New York, Shore's work attracted more praise from the critics.

    After a three-year study in New York, Shore returned to Los Angeles in 1923, abandoning her former teacher Robert Henri's dark palette of deep blacks and blues, and significantly lightening her palette. The warm and brilliant sun of California led her to luxuriate in dazzling yellows, oranges, crimsons, and greens in her paintings. Shadows of rich purples and blues cast by the sun became dramatic complements to the golden light while depicting the local flora, animals, and rocks. She also became active in the founding of progressive art clubs, though she objected being tagged as a modernist. A visit to Mexico in 1927, encouraged her to simplify her nature studies, where they became flatter, more decorative, and stylized in their organic shapes, forms, and contours. By focusing on a single object in her paintings and presenting it on a large scale in a closely cropped composition, she created images analogous to Georgia O'Keeffe's 1920 flower paintings. However, unlike O'Keeffe's sensual images, Shore's plants and flowers and animals often convey monumentality that suggest the power and mystery of the natural environment. Her close friend photographer Edward Weston (1886 – 1958) elaborated: "she has become more closely identified with nature, 'freed from non-essentials'." "Shore now realizes a fusion of her own ego with a deep universality. . . .When she paints a flower she IS that flower, when she draws a rock she IS that rock." Both Weston and Shore arrived in Carmel in 1930, where she resided for the next thirty years, exhibiting art and teaching art classes. It was the height of the depression and it was difficult to make ends meet. However, Shore was fortunate to receive a commission by the Treasury Relief Art Project in 1936 to execute six murals.

    Shore's biographer Roger Aikin believes that the barrier to her fame "was Shore's unfortunate habit of changing her styles just as she was becoming well known and relocating her studio from city to city. In Carmel, California, she developed her mature style and produced the most important artworks of her career. In My Cat she places her object on a plinth in a cropped landscape composition of hills and cacti outcroppings, where the cat is monumental and commands the full attention of the viewer. The surreal background contrasts with the stark realism of the cat and its brilliant black and white coat, and the cat's vivid green eyes, like the color of the cacti, sharpen our attention.
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