The Cat Burglar

Being Dutchies, it took Zart a while before we understood the rich historical world of The Cat Burglar, a print by hand of Illustrator Stephen Dumayne. Shortly, a cat burglar is a master thief who makes James Bond look like a douche bag: “A particularly stealthy burglar, especially one who gains undetected entry through the use of agility”, as the wiki describes it. The cat burglar is quite an interesting, almost iconic figure that appears in many forms throughout history.

The Cat Burglar and Other Folk Stories

Zartist Stephen Dumayne is specialised in commercial graphic design and illustrations. His work evolves from sketches on newspapers or small paintings on canvas into graphical work. Dumayne grew up in Wales and studied until 1997 in Southampton. After his studies he set out to create Illustrative oil paintings thematically based on folkloristic – and and distinctive local stories. In the course of time Dumayne switched to making digital work. He ‘digitised’ his drawn and painted illustrations using various techniques. An example is The Cat Burglar.

Dumayne made The Cat Burglar after he read a short story somewhere. A Cat Burglar is invisible, flexible as a cat or spider man himself and he – or she- steals from the wealthy and gives to himself ….

Take a Virtual Tour

Click the links in the image below for historical references.

Charles Peace, the Real Cat Burglar

The ‘real’ cat burglar is probably Charles Peace. Equally hated and admired many stories, both true and untrue, kept being written and told in bars and at fairs. Charles P. was finally caught after many spectacular escapes from several prisons and hanged in Leeds in 1879. The story goes that, again he managed to escape. His death, as gossip tells, was staged and somehow he was thought to still be moving around. He kept unseen for many years because he could change shape. Hence a Cat Burglar is usually depicted with a mask. This Charles P. was front-page news for decades. All the stories gave this master thief a mythical status. Charles P. from living legend to iconic figure.

Iconic figure

The character of The Cat Burglar inspired, of course, above all many copy cats. But also many writers, filmmakers and artists. Think for example of the character Irma Vep from Les Vampires. A famous silent film consisting of multiple series made in 1915 -1916. Or Alfred Hitchcock’s romantic thriller To Catch a Thief. Marvel’s Spiderman can be recognised as a more heroic cat burglar. And the female version made her debute as Catwoman in 1940 in the first Batman comic. However, most of these figures appeared long after Edgar Wallace, a famous crime writer, published his short story “ The Cat Burglar” in 1927.

OMG ! It’s a girl

As history shows,the character of the Cat Burglar is surrounded by mystery. It can be a man, but may as well be woman. In Dumaynes version this remains unclear. He plays with the question whether it is a woman or a man. The illustration is  full of little details that refer to the Victorian era, the period Charles P. lived. The colour palette and the shape of the houses refer to this historical period. But also typical Victorian gothic elements as mysterious architecture with secret doors and hidden staircases, and chimneys damping with cat tails.

More work  by Dumayne is in our Artist section. NB: Stephen Dumayne recently joined FB. Fans can go there and say hello.

To Artist Page >

 

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SALE

GIVE A PAINTING A SECOND LIFE

It has been a hot item for a while: recycling machines, waste and what is more for a better future. If devices can be recycled, why not art? Zart has been working with a recycling model since the company started. Zart rents out and sells reproductions and reproductions only. The originals, including the copy rights, remain the artist’s. Always. When a work comes back, Zart recycles it in the form of an ex-rental-for -sale or rents the repro out a second time. This way of buying and selling saves a great work from a tragic fate: to disappear into a dusty attic, where it will be forgotten.

To give works a second life, Zart has set up a new sales page! It concerns ex-rentals or prints with a little mistake. Here you will find the currently available works. Zart offers a discount of between 25% and 75% at purchase. For the current status and availability of a work, please check our online gallery below. In case you want to see the work ‘live’: make an appointment and we will show you the work in the comfort of your home.

NOW ON SALE:

Zart offers a discount of between 25% and 75% at purchase. For the current status and availability of a work, please check our online gallery above.

PLEASE MAKE AN APPOINTMENT

The collection changes on a daily basis so please contact us when you are interested so we can make an appointment.

Contact us through mail info@zart.nu or call 06 493 70 254.

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Copying is as Old as the Hills

In Zart’s series Thoughts about Print and Printmaking, we discuss topics based on questions raised by Zartians and Zartists. In our daily life a printmakers, we meet numerous people with ideas and questions. Hence, Zart started to publish a range of articles that will address matters such as copying, authenticity, and status of print in the art scene. Blogger Marceline Geelen gives her view on the matter of copy.

Copying is as Old as the Hills

By Marceline Geelen

Copying of art a dirty word? It’s as old as the hills! The famous Rembrandt van Rijn was so busy drinking, hitting on women and being The Man that he gathered students who could do his job, copying his style meticulously. All he had to do was put his signature at the bottom. Et voilà, a new Rembrandt was born.

What if you live in the mountains, but you love to paint seashores? You go on the Internet and choose a picture or painting – possibly originally made by a well renounced artist and now reproduced by you as if it were the original. Is the painting less beautiful after you copied it?

Good artists, bad artists
In 2014, BBC Culture highlighted an article titled ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal’. Without context, this seems a pretty bold statement, but philosophically speaking, if you dig deeper into the matter, there’s much more than meets the eye. ‘Counterfeiters copy and conceal they are doing so’, is stated in the article. ‘Students copy, as artistic training. Assistants copy, as labor for more famous artists’ (hence Rembrandt, red). ‘But as Sturtevant shows, the border between original and copy, invention and plagiarism, is constantly up for negotiation’.

Authority and authorship
The thin line between art and copy has been a subject of debate for as long as remembered: ‘Sturtevant, who died earlier in 2014 at the age of 89, was faking Warhol and Lichtenstein and Johns – but she was faking the act of faking them too, using the techniques of a parodist  – or criminal forger – for much bolder ends. Philosophically sophisticated but not at all conceptual in execution, Sturtevant’s art actually hinges less on copying than on the big questions of authority, authorship, circulation and history’.

Installation by Elaine Sturtevant

Hyde Park, Serpentine Gallery — “Sex Dolls” (2011), art installation by Elaine Sturtevant. Image: Willard, Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Upper class
If art is only available to look at in a museum, or exclusively affordable for the upper class, what is the sense of it? Why aren’t we all so privileged that we can enjoy our favorite painting every day – above our own couch, in our own living room? Or at least a one-on-one print of it?

We’re positive that none of us will be less impressed by ‘only a print’ of our favorite picture. From experience, we know that we generally lavish our eyes every time again when we look at it, over and over discovering new aspects and details. Details we would never have figured out by just watching the piece of art for a few minutes in a museum or gallery before we head over to the next one. Just sayin’.


 

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Why Do We Multiply?

Everyone knows what a Platypus looks like, can envision the rings of Saturn, imagine a blue whale, ‘knows’ how lava flows, or even search for an X-ray scan of a Masai warrior’s chest. From the cradle to the grave we are bombed with visual input. With each image that rushes into our world our concept of the world grows. There is practically nothing we did not see before. Nothing we can not imagine. What can be known is shared. Even in real time. We obviously have a desire to pass on what we see and hear, a need for news, a passion to multiply.

Life is Sharing by A. Levine. shared by cogdogblog

Life is Sharing by A. Levine. Source: Flickr Creative Commons Licenced (BY-SA)

Sharing culture

It looks like the image has gained power over the written word with the rise of the internet. Where we used to read articles we now prefer an info graph. A good press picture is as powerful as a journalistic report. Why do we prefer images over text these days? One explanation is that an image is easier to share. It is more practical as a way of communicating with the world. When we see or hear something new we want to share this fact with our friends or who ever wants to listen. Visual information simply takes less processing time and is easily absorbed in the midst of the information overload. It is easier to digest. Thanks to modern distribution techniques sharing never was easier. An image can be multiplied by pressing a button.

Power to the image

The steady growth of the power of the image did not happen overnight. Visual culture experienced several revolutions. There seems to be a relation between the desire for news and the art of printing. More specific, we are referring to the art of multiplying. People set out by manually copying on a small-industrial scale. Then there was the invention of printmaking like engraving woodcuts, lithography, followed by working with rotary presses, photography, film and motion picture, television, the digital image, and finally the ubiquitous ability to create images and immediately share them with the whole world through the internet. Apart form all kind of psychological aspects, one of the main reasons we share our images with the world because we can. Because we have the techniques.

mage from page 14 of "A short history of the printing press and of the improvements in printing machinery from the time of Gutenberg up to the present day"

image from page 14 of “A short history of the printing press and of the improvements in printing machinery from the time of Gutenberg up to the present day”. Source: Flickr creative commons

News

In the past, let’s say in the Middle Ages, images were rare. A man knew the faces of his fellow villagers, the local landscape with its buildings and animals in it. The only variation on the images of the familiar surroundings formed the predictable change of the seasons. Maybe he saw a stained glass window in the local church, a painting or fresco, a pair of saints or a tapestry. New visual input was rare. News in general was an extraordinary thing. News usually came in the form of spoken word, storytelling, songs and gossip. Nowadays we consider visuals also as news.  Visually, news could be a new face to watch, perhaps a strange pair of trousers or unknown keel or cap to stare at, and stories from behind the horizon to listen to.

Hunger for news

One can imagine that the hunger for visual input due to lack of outside impulses led to intense studies of things and creatures that were available in the direct surroundings. The average person in the Middle Ages may have known in detail all trees, plants, animals and people in his habitat. Botanists and travellers drew in detail what they saw. Most imagery was religious or scientific by origin. It did not take long before popular images were reproduced by copyists in monasteries and studios. By hand. This changed radically with the invention of the printing press in the 14th century. Pamphlets, prints and illustrated books spread over Europe. With the books and illustrations a world of ideas also spread. Like in today’s FB updates, people wanted to share their view on the world.

So we share our images with the world because we have the technique. Thanks to modern distribution techniques sharing never was easier. The techniques are constantly renewed but the need to share news and things that surprise us or emotionally hit us, remains the same. Did anything really change?  


Joep Zijp

Joep Zijp

Every now and then Zart invites a guest writer to say something about art, printmaking, graphic design or photography. This week we are highly indebted by by Joep Zijp for his contribution. Joep whas journalist and editor  for several media and worked for publishing house Sanoma among others.

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The Accidental Artist

Incidentally, Zart invites artists to write a guest post. When asked to do something for Zart on art and photography, David de Leeuw is for once at a loss for words. This does not happen very often. David is a senior editor and journalist in the first place. He did not take his work as a photographer very seriously at first. Until the success of his recent photo series Reflections blew everyone, the artist included, away. As so many others before him, he is an accidental artist really. Read his story.

The Accidental ArtistDavid de Leeuw

By David de Leeuw

Writing a blog post? About art and photography? I really have no clue. Alright, I take pictures and Zart sells them and rents them out. That transforms my pastime into art all of a sudden. Not that you will hear me complain. Let’s proceed to tell you how I go about the business of making photos, shall I? And why I do it in the first place.

From Keyboard Mercenary to Photographer

It wasn’t until 2012 that I bought a camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 (compact) and started photographing for real. I was 47 then. Before that, I’d never taken pictures. I thought it was bollocks, really. ‘You can always remember where you’ve been, right?’, I thought. That turned out to be not quite the whole story 🙂 As a child, I already had a sense for moods and atmospheres, not only with people but also with environments like cities. I didn’t know what to do with that inner world of magic and fantasy. At 25, I’d already turned my writing talent into word prostitution. After a working day as a keyboard mercenary, I’m completely empty. Who knew a camera could come in handy as an instrument to express myself? I discovered that in 2011, when I started taking simple snapshots. That was fun! Likes on facebook! Hi, I’m David and I’m a facebook-likes-addict. People encouraged me to proceed and I switched to a real camera.

Mirror City

Mirror City

Reflections

I’m steadily wising up as a photographer because I ‘have to’ venture out with my camera almost every day. EXPRESS YOURSELF! the expression animal keeps on urging me. So then I take a walk and see what happens. I love puddles. When I hold my camera just above it or even dip it in, lovely reflection photographs result. Why doesn’t everyone do it this way! Tourists and locals crowd the streets and look wearily upon the kneeling fatso taking pictures of water in the gutter. They don’t know, do they. Of course, reflection photos become a bit of a standard trick after a while but I LOVE IT! A recent discovery is the vertical panoramic picture, a great way to cut out a beautiful and relatively unspoilt image in ridiculously busy city centres with ugly cars and clothes everywhere. For the past half year or so, I’ve been using a photo editing programme which shows me all the colours in black and white and how to correct warped perspective so buildings appear straight again. Sharpening is a nice tool and highlights and what have you but you must be careful not to exaggerate, however, that can be good too at times and blah blah blah, look I’m already rambling.

Photography  as a Free Zone

Bike Star

Bike Star

In principle, everything I do is intuitive and through experience, a bit of craftsmanship creeps in. I don’t read manuals, it all comes naturally and that’s the way I’d like to keep it. I don’t do assignments, photography is my free zone. Of course, I have Great Examples, from Eva Besnyö and Jacob Olie to Pim Kops, a contemporary fellow Amsterdammer. All of them real artists. Am I one, or becoming one? Judge for yourself on Zart.

Artist page >

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