- Zoltan Kemeny 1907–1965
- Original title
- Masque de chat
- Plaster, canvas, scrim, rope and oil paint on fibreboard
- Object: 410 x 585 x 79 mm
- Presented by Mrs Madeleine Kemeny, the artist's widow 1983
Catalogue entryZoltan Kemeny 1907-1965
T03596 Cat Mask 1947
Plaster, woven canvas, scrim, rope, braiding and oil on fibreboard 410 x 585 x 79 (16 3/4 x 23 1/2 x 3 1/8)
Inscribed 'zk' b.r.
Presented by the artist's widow Mrs Madeleine Kemeny 1983
Kemeny divided his career into successive phases. These he termed 'Paintings' (1943-48), 'Relief-Collages' (1947-53) and 'Images in Relief' (1953-65). While the first two periods overlap, T03596 falls distinctly into the second group of work, although the artist continued to use oils as one of his principal materials until his work in metal of the mid-1950s.
The relief is built up onto a low density, poor quality fibreboard. The various materials, plaster, woven canvas and scrim, rope and braiding (bronze wire around a hemp core) have been glued into position. Following this, the relief has been thinly painted over, then shaped further. Finally the artist has punctured the surface and parts of the relief (in the background, along the circular line that encompasses the mask's contour). Kemeny's approach to his material reflected a primitive manner 'which was reminiscent of the techniques used in old raised embrodiery. He soon began to introduce material into his pictures - sand, earth, iron, slag, buttons, rags, string, pebbles and pearls. Garbage for the rest of the world, treasure for him - real 'finds' (Michel Ragon, Zoltan Kemeny, exh.cat., Foundation Maeght, St-Paul, 1974, p.7). Another relief of two years later also has a cat as its subject matter (Berne 1982, repr. p.54). 'Cat' is a plaster relief on Pavatex board. The eyes of the cat are less prominent than in T03496 and one of the cat's paws stretches across the image from the right hand edge of the work. By comparison, T03596 places far more emphasis on the almond-shaped eyes and menacing expression of the cat mask, with its brown striations beneath the eyes. No limbs distract the central placement of the mask.
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.513-14