Some of life’s most formidable moments emerge from the most uncomfortable situations
Most of us have experienced a time early in our adult life when the entire world sits before our eyes. Young, eager, and prepared to chase our dreams, there is an excitement and trepidation that fuels those early days.
If you have been there, you are also familiar with the dingy one-room apartments and meager financial means, which define most young adults in that moment.
Dr. Seuss was no exception, living in such a place with his close Dartmouth friend and artistic confidant, Jack Rose. Jack invited Ted Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) to bunk in his New York City studio, just above a raucous, underground nightclub. Down the hall was the communal bathroom, which included a shower-bath.
“God, what a place!” Ted recalled. Noise wasn’t the only problem. He and Rose bought canes to “play polo” with the rats in their room. “The last thing we used to do at night was to stand on chairs . . . and try to drive them out so they wouldn’t nibble us while we slept.”
Cat in Obsolete Shower Bath
Mixed-Media Pigment Print on Archival Canvas, 36" x 28"
Limited Edition of 850 Arabic Numbers, 99 Patrons’ Collection, 155 Collaborators’ Proofs, 5 Hors d’Commerce, and 2 Printer's Proofs
Life must be lived forward, but can only be understood backwards
It is hard to know how life will unfold as one is living it. Moments that seem insignificant can only be understood as formidable upon later reflection. Ted’s early New York days in his studio apartment, shower-bath and all, likely had a more profound effect on him then could have possibly been imagined at the time.
The Pirate –
Ted lived above the famed Greenwich Village basement speakeasy — “The Pirates Den.” The owner, Don Dickerman, who studied art alongside his lifelong friend, Norman Rockwell, thought of himself as a latter-day pirate and dressed the part. Dickerman’s outlandish outlook on life, complete with pirate paraphernalia and endless swashbuckling parties, likely empowered Ted to continue viewing the world “through the wrong end of the telescope.” It is conceivable that Dickerman also influenced Ted’s Seuss Navy project and the taxidermy works that resulted, not to mention his eventual hat collection.
Norman Rockwell –
Ted and Rockwell corresponded throughout their lives. Although Rockwell was 10 years older than Ted, both artists found common ground in utilizing commercial platforms, such as magazines and books, to bring significant fine art into the lives of the general public. Don Dickerman and Norman Rockwell were lifelong friends. Rockwell even immortalized Dickerman in a 1924 Saturday Evening Post cover. It is believed that Ted met Rockwell through Dickerman during this time.
The Shower-Bath –
This community bathroom down the hall from his apartment, together with its shared shower-bath, likely forged a more indelible mark on Ted than he even realized.
Ted's Cat, known to be his alter ego, emerged later in Ted’s life and became one of the most important pop culture icons of the 20th century. In Cat in Obsolete Shower Bath, Ted places his beloved Cat in a shower-bath as if to look back and recognize that without such moments—the struggles, dingy apartments, crazy landlords, and community shower-baths—the Cat, and perhaps the entirety of his career, may never have materialized.
Other Important Cat Works
Dr. Seuss’s many Cat-themed works are some of the most coveted within the entire Art of Dr. Seuss Collection and, as such, have sold out very quickly. Works related to this important Shower Bath painting are as follows: