cover image KLIMT AND HIS CAT


Berenice Capatti, , illus. by Octavia Monaco. . Eerdmans, $18 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-5282-3

Debut author Capatti and Italian artist Monaco (A Brave Little Princess ) offer a unique portrait of Gustav Klimt, his studio and his work—from the point of view of his pet, whom he calls Katze. On built-up layers of soft pastel, brilliant orange and cool gray-blue, Monaco creates portraits of Klimt and adds other figures—the women who appear in his paintings, their necks alluringly bent to the side, images from his thoughts and dreams, tubes of paint and pictures of his black-and-white cat. Also in the manner of Klimt, she embellishes the spreads with fabric patterns and repeating medallions, then overlays them with fields of gold ink. The narrative lacks the power of Monaco's artwork, but supports the illustrations sturdily nonetheless. The cat, who narrates, describes the fate of work done by Klimt for the University of Vienna, criticized so harshly that the artist chose to buy it back ("Katze, what's important to me is not how many people like my art, but who appreciates it," Klimt says), and injects a note of humor as he complains about his master on vacation ("I wander the streets of Venice to look for other cats, but Gustav is interested only in art"). The depiction of an artist to whom work is more important than family, wealth or recognition, comes through with force—and with great charm. Small reproductions of Klimt's most famous works appear on the last two pages. All ages. (Jan.)