Minor-Cat Miner in a High-Yield Emerald Mine
Ted Geisel’s (aka Dr. Seuss) Secret Art paintings were created for his own enjoyment in the solitary confines of his studio. Their creation was devoid of deadlines, editors, publishers, and the cast of hundreds involved in bringing one of his books to life. These endeavors were personal and, as such, their meaning often seems a more private reflection of Ted’s own life.
Mining the Best Ideas
Ted proclaimed himself to be “The Cat Behind the Hat” in most of his paintings. Here, his Minor-Cat Miner is discovered chipping away at the riches of this high-yield emerald mine. When viewed through a more personal lens, this painting can be seen as a powerful visual metaphor for Ted’s lifelong ambition. From his early days as an editorial cartoonist to his later decades as the world’s most renowned children’s book author, Ted continued to “mine” the riches of his mind for the best ideas. He was constantly chipping away at his concepts, searching for the jewel that would propel his ideas forward. He never tired of this process. Ted worked diligently on every personal and professional project with the same steadfast dedication, never accepting an idea at face value, but rather digging through the recesses of his mind to discover the essence that would make his concepts shine.
In this light, Ted’s Minor-Cat Miner in a High-Yield Emerald Mine is not only a self-portrait of Ted himself, but also an iconic artwork for those of us willing to dig deep to discover the best we can offer in our own lives.
Ted Geisel was a connoisseur of contemporary culture and sought inspiration from some of the most well-known artists of the early 20th century. From his timely fascination with the Surrealists to his discovery of the cubists and abstract expressionists, Ted consistently found himself in close proximity to some of the greatest art movements of the last 100 years.
Minor-Cat Miner hints at the cubist and abstract expressionist influence from the 1900s through the 1940s, along with several other prominent Secret Art paintings such as Cat Detective in the Wrong Part of Town and Archbishop Katz.
Later in life Ted would go on to push abstraction even further in a series of works he did privately alongside his Secret Art paintings. Like the Secret Art works, these paintings were done for his own pleasure and offered an opportunity for a humorous Seussian twist on what was regarded within high-art circles as serious contemporary art. Images such as Road Runner, Floatin’ Nude, and “The two in the bush that the bird in the hand is worth more than.” have rarely seen the light of day, but reveal Ted’s ability for serious fun.