By Brian Spencer
My vivid nightmares last night fortunately didn’t involve getting bent over a windowsill, kitty-style, by a gigantic fat cat as a similarly oversized cat looked on with placid bemusement. Still, the high eroticism of this kittie porn lurked somewhere in my stoned subconscious, so I’m blaming the bad dreams on Kattenkabinet — and, sure thing, it’s my pleasure to pass this imagery on to you.
Located on a pretty stretch of Herengracht in central Amsterdam, Kattenkabinet features a collection of hundreds of cat-centric portraits, paintings, sculptures, photographs, and prints. You’ll find them on display in the second floor gallery of this old canalhouse, a gorgeous building where wooden floors creak with every step, beautiful (and original?) frescos cover some ceilings, and ornate gilding mingles with period chandeliers and heavy curtains made from dark fabrics. It’s dead quiet save for the creaking floorboards; the ambience is completely absurd.
The art, well… it’s art with at least some feline presence, created in styles ranging from historical Dutch to contemporary sketches. Most interesting, perhaps, is a display of works from Tsuguharu Foujita, a now-unheralded Japanese painter who enjoyed great commercial success while living in Paris in the 1920s.
A close friend of such peers at Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, Foujita was a rather eccentric fellow with the physical appearance to match it: Egyptian statue haircut, Hitler mustache, wrist tattoos, often dressed in long tunics. He was most known for his cat and women portraits, some of which can be found at Kattenkabinet. Apparently Foujita was so financially flush that he made waves within the arts community by installing a hot tub in his Montparnasse flat. Hot tub + a love for cats + artistic talent + eccentric looks = legendary Parisian playboy.
Kattenkabinet can be seen in 30 minutes or less, depending on your level of interest in cat art, and though I can’t exactly recommend it, I will say it’s a fun spot in which to kill some time and blow 6 euro while waiting for the rain to relent outdoors. Also, if you’re into kittie porn — yo.
Kattenkabinet is located in central Amsterdam at Herengracht 497. 020 626 9040. Open Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday and Sunday noon – 5pm. Admission is 6 euro for adults and 3 euro for kids aged 4 – 12.