October 27, 2021, is NATIONAL BLACK CAT DAY!
As unbelievable as this sounds, black cats are about half as likely to be adopted as other cats. For this reason, National Black Cat Day was created to help celebrate these iconic felines and bring awareness to this issue. We are happy to join this national celebration with a little recount of Baseman’s love for black cats and how they have inspired his work throughout the years.
Even before Blackie the Cat entered Baseman’s life, the artist has long admired black cats: real and imaginary. Felix the Cat, created in 1919 by Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer, is one inspiration – the mischievous, but good-hearted black cat whose adventures were broadcast and seen in comic strips with great popularity in the US in the 20th century, and whose iconic status remains today.
“Cats have been featured in my art since I was a kid, and became more prevalent in the 1990s especially when I produced editorial and ad campaigns,” the artist explained.
Despite the fact that black cats have been seen as a symbol of bad luck, particularly if one walks across the path in front of a person, which is believed to be an omen of misfortune and death, or witchcraft, these wrong ideas are not part of Baseman’s visual vocabulary. From observing their behavior, black cats made their way into the artist’s paintings. His black cat Abracadabra, one of the thirteen once feral cats that lived in his backyard, inspired Baseman to incorporate the image of black cats in his paintings in the 2003 series Open Wounds, including “Damn you all,” a tribute to his black cat Stubby who was hit by a car.
Black cats also appeared in the 2011 exhibition Walking through Walls, and appear as the logo and visual identity Baseman created for the band Nightmare and the Cat (active 2010-2015). Always acknowledging and depicting the positive, dual, and playful nature of felines, one of Baseman’s closest collaborators was Blackie the Cat: “He found me during a traumatic time in my life, and inspired me to create many characters that reflect his personality and powers.” Bosko the Cat, a former foster kitty, continues to carry the tradition of black cat muse extraordinaire.
Please consider adopting a black cat from your local animal shelter today.