Feel the Energy Of Louis Wain
Updated: Dec 7, 2021
As a lover of Victorian ephemera and cats, I discovered Louis Wain many years ago. At that time, information on his life was hard to come by. Only the bare facts were available: that he'd been a successful postcard artist that focused on anthropomorphic cats. Later in his life, he'd succumbed to what was most probably schizophrenia. His cat art changed during his time in the asylums and became something that I really fell in love with.
A few weekends ago, about one in ten people coming into booth was referencing Louis Wain. Turns out that Amazon created a movie about the artist's life called "The Electric Life of Louis Wain" starring one of my favorite actors, Benedict Cumberbatch.
Naturally, I had to watch the movie as soon as possible. I was delighted to discover more about the artist. I learned that he was fascinated by science and believed that we all put out an electric field which he speculated could be measured and, possibly, in his later cat art, he combined his extreme love of cats with his interest in science.
His life was difficult and full of struggle as he provided the only financial support for his mother and six unmarried sisters as well as his wife who died tragically only a few years after they fell in love.
His wife started him down the road to anthropomorphic cats and his greatest success as a published artist. Unfortunately, he signed away to the copyright to his images so made very little money from his very popular artwork. He struggled financially his entire life.
He spent the last few years in a succession of asylums without any sort of proper diagnosis, but at least he enjoyed being able to paint and spend time with the institutions' colony of cats.
After spending quality time with Benedict Cumberbatch, I felt motivated to spend some more time with the later artwork of Louis Wain and the speculation of electrical fields.
What would these fields look like if we could see them? Would they be like auras or pulsating waves? Within a few moments, I was hooked and decided to have a little art fun of my own.
I started with a cat but started thinking about my New Orleans Fairy Tale series and some photographs I took of the French Quarter last week. I stumbled across what appeared to be an actual working pay phone.
What has this phone seen and heard? How many lives have been effected by this phone - conversations echoing out through the months and years?
I think Louis Wain would have loved New Orleans.