Image of the Week 3: "Cats Forming the Characters for ‘Catfish’"

Today’s image is a surreal print by one of the last great masters of traditional Japanese woodblock printing, Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861). An assemblage of black and white, tan and calico cats, looking quite content with themselves, float in an abstract color field of steel gray, cream and blue, their twisting bodies forming an approximation of the Japanese character for ‘catfish.’ I have no idea what the historical background for this image is, but I really like it.

A couple of others by the same artist:

“Scribbling on the Storehouse Wall,” seemingly an attempt to memorialize graffiti and the public doodles of strangers in a print.

“Cats Suggested as the Fifty-Three Stations of Tokaido,” an even more elaborate depictions of cats that playfully alludes to Hiroshige‘s famous print series.

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