Nature onto paper

In an outline to a sadly never finished article on drawing, Ib Andersen laid out, how we all know what a cat looks like. That is until we are to draw it.

It is easier to describe it in words. Then again, he continued, in our minds the notion of a cat is so much more manifold compared to how vague we are, when we try to transform our understanding of it into words. It may have stribes and it does have a tail. It may even be cuddly.

So we need to verify and study a cat at hand. Studying it is the keyword here. It is a matter of going back to reality with a sufficiently critical eye, observing closely and calmly what is before us. Rather than beginning with the idea of drawing a cuddly thing and end up with what Ib Andersen called a "banal misfit", we might actually end up with something cuddly, just like a real cat.

What makes this doubly interesting is that his words were not merely an aspiration or proclamation, but his actual method of working. Using his eyes as a tool to record and then transfer onto paper, what his eyes had detected, laying out what can be known. A constant strife to stay at his best and never slacken, never draw on the old imagination of something.

And so, he drew the ears vigilant even while sleeping, the tail curled up on the legs, while dense pen strokes create the texture of the fur. The softness of the one texture meets the wooden surface of the table underneath and yet this tells a story of its own; we almost feel its worn, weathered cracks that are soft to the touch. Which adds up to the fact, that this is of course a composition, carefully orchestrated along a diagonal axis, with the red of the port mirrored in the snout and the paws. The inclusion of man-made lettering accentuates the cat as a fragment of nature.

Ib Andersen, Cat, Fredensborg, 1941.

Today, his son and daughter-in-law, Povl Valdemar Andersen and Bodil Elisabeth Rasmussen have a cat, or rather a personality of its own. Misling is the reason why I now know that we have three species of bats inhabiting the massive tree right outside our windows.

In other words, Misling is a scientifically oriented cat, and it seems right that she was the very one to prove how close Ib Andersen came to creating life in a drawing.

It is the actual cat to the left

Photo: Misling Andersen Rasmussen, June 2, 2014.

Misling is studying Ib Andersen's signature and since we have had quite a number of hits on the blog on the question of his signature, here it is. It is from a drawing, we have already seen around these parts. His signature is recognizable on the flow of the pen. It is not a tag, nor does it come with a special flourish. It is a notation, stating his name with the same precision with which he created the rest of the drawing:

The artworks, detail thereof and photo are courtesy of the family of Ib Andersen and must not be reproduced without their permission.

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