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Mountain Lion by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "Cougar Descending a Staircase"
30 x 24"
Acrylic on Cradled Board, 2016
Mountain Lion
How to buy

“Cougar Descending a Staircase” began while I was teaching a workshop at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. While observing their cougar late one afternoon, I was fascinated by its lithe and effortless movements as it circled its enclosure in anticipation of feeding time. I had been fortunate enough to see a mountain lion in the wild a couple of years earlier, but this opportunity allowed me to observe the illusive animal up close. Of the many hundreds of photographs that I took that day, only one shot came close to capturing the sinuous and deadly grace I wanted to portray in a painting. One paw was entirely blurred by movement, so I set about carefully reconstructing it from my other reference, showing my work to three different big cat experts for critique before I was satisfied that I had done it correctly. Both because I observed the animal in captivity and because I wanted the focus to be on the cat, not some elaborate background, I set about brainstorming how I could create a non-objective environment that would communicate the general sense of Arizona’s endless, warm rock faces without attempting to describe them. Though the background is rich in subtle organic texture, the “steps” down which the cat is descending became increasingly abstracted until I eventually settled on a sort of minimalist geometry.

This reductivism, coupled with the clockwise twisting of the cat and the warm, brown and taupe palette reminded me of Marcel Duchamp’s famous Nude Descending a Staircase. The shifting planes of my own very non-objective background reminded me of the words of one art critic who famously described Duchamp’s controversial painting as “an explosion in a shingle factory.” Whether or not one likes Duchamp’s work (and I personally don’t) one must appreciate his efforts to describe sequential movement in a single, static image. That was likewise my goal in “Cougar Descending a Staircase.” I have done sequential animal paintings inspired by the same animal and figurative locomotion photographs by Edward Muybridge that inspired Duchamp, and this title, cheeky though it may be, is meant to be an homage to all of those artists who have sought to communicate, through a moment frozen in time, a distillation of action so potent it suggests not only that frozen moment, but the seconds before, and the seconds after, and to evoke in the mind of the viewer a continuous narrative of the imagination.

Welcome to the online home for artwork by Andrew Denman, a California –based, internationally recognized, award-winning contemporary wildlife artist. Denman primarily paints wildlife and animal subjects in a unique, hallmark style combining hyper-realism with stylization and abstraction. His dynamic and original acrylic paintings can be found in museum collections on two continents and in numerous private collections in the USA and abroad. His clear voice, unique vision, and commitment to constant artistic experimentation have positioned him on the forefront of an artistic vanguard of the best contemporary wildlife and animal painters working today.
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