What is this a picture of?


If you said “cat” you’d be partly right. If you said “naked lady kneeling on floor” you’d be closer.

This photograph may help explain:


This is the work of Craig Tracy, highlighted in The Telegraph, and who’s web site is here.

hat tip eolake


  1. #1 John McKay
    November 3, 2009

    What if I said, the first Santana album?

  2. #2 GaryB
    November 3, 2009

    Sorry dude, but this is a picture of a cat. It uses a naked woman as part of the canvas, but the image is that of a cat.


  3. #3 Cthulhu
    November 3, 2009

    Like my own cats…I’d kiss this one on the nose. 🙂

  4. #4 Jason Thibeault
    November 3, 2009

    Presumably before consuming said “nose” whole, Cthulhu? Ia!

  5. #5 The Science Pundit
    November 3, 2009

    Sorry dude, but this is a picture of a cat. It uses a naked woman as part of the canvas, but the image is that of a cat.


    Strictly speaking, it is a picture of a naked lady kneeling on floor. It is also a picture of a painting of a cat. Both of those statements are correct. However, the statement “It’s a picture of a cat” is incorrect.

    [/one-up pedantry]

  6. #6 Uncle Glenny
    November 3, 2009

    It’s a fantasy of my wasting-away little kitty from her huntress days when she’d occasionally sneak in a mouse then position it so that to escape it would have to race up me (into my hair) while I sat, burned out, staring at a monitor and writing silly blog comments.

  7. #7 AnonymousCoward
    November 3, 2009

    I don’t know art, but I know what I like

  8. #8 Jackal
    November 3, 2009

    Objectifying a naked woman – how original.

  9. #9 mrcreosote
    November 3, 2009

    @#2 and #5 – Rene Magritte got there first…

  10. #10 Aaron Golas
    November 3, 2009

    Strictly speaking, it is a picture of a naked lady kneeling on floor. It is also a picture of a painting of a cat. Both of those statements are correct. However, the statement “It’s a picture of a cat” is incorrect.

    Strictly speaking, it IS a picture of a cat. It just isn’t a photograph of a cat (it is a photograph of a painting of a cat).

    </further pedantry>

  11. @ John McKay – you win and are awesome

    @ every1 else – you fail for being too f-cking stupid and posting dumbshit comments. go look at the album, dumbasses.

  12. #12 Creative Custom Door Design
    November 4, 2009

    OK, that’s a cool optical illusion. Taking body paint to the next level.

  13. #13 micheleinmichigan
    November 4, 2009

    Really? Well that is art that adds a lot to the human condition. Or at least is useful in a fertility clinic (If a guy is turned on by women in submissive poses and cats that is).

    Oh well, to each his (or her) own.

    I can’t help but imagining my own version. The naked guy painted like a landscape and the perky robin hunting for breakfast.

  14. #14 Stephanie Z
    November 4, 2009

    I’m fascinated that anyone wearing that much body paint is being considered naked. Would a guy in this position be viewed the same?

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    November 4, 2009

    With respect to clothing, to be naked or nude is to be not wearing any. If she is well armed with a sharp wit, she may not be naked to snark or jeering, but she’s still got no clothes on.

    It might make a difference, though, if it’s semi-gloss latex paint vs. oil-based stain.

  16. #16 micheleinmichigan
    November 4, 2009

    If you are trying this at home, only acrylic or tempera paint should be used for body paint (and check the label). 🙂

    Oil paint has nasty solvents and other contents that are absorbed through the skin and can cause poisoning, allergies, autoimmune disorders, etc. Not to mention your model would have to stand still for three or four days.

    It’s not the naked/unclothedness that matters to me. My question would be can you see HER (personality, soul, humanity) or did the art make her just a combination of body parts that emphasizes one small aspect of her person (sexually attractive)? Or only use her as a part of “clever, clever” optical illusion?

    IMO, as an artist, you are definitely making a different statement when you paint a naked person than when you paint a clothed person. (regardless of male/female). That statement might not necessarily be sexual it could be tactile, temperature or vulnerability based.

    But there you go. Never put a link to a featured artist up and expect an artist not to take it too seriously.

  17. #17 Stephanie Z
    November 4, 2009

    As for clothing, there’s plenty of it that’s not make of cloth, but it still counts. Pasties count, plastic raincoats, leather pants. I really don’t understand what’s so different about body paint, particularly body paint like this that covers and obscures.

    micheleinmichigan, there’s a long history of the hidden and the ambiguous in visual arts. Does it not serve the purpose of making us think about how we view the world? Is Man Ray’s Le violon d’Ingres also only good for jerking off to?

  18. #18 micheleinmichigan
    November 4, 2009

    Stephanie Z – To me ultimately the difference is sensation or tactile, because painting someone or being painted is more unique than getting dressed, the viewer is more likely to incorporate that sensation into how they experience the painting. I’m not saying that in a positive or negative, it just seems like part of the experience.

    But, understand, as an artist, I think the difference between painting on a wood panel and canvas is significant. So take that for what it’s worth 😉

    There is a long history of hidden, ambiguous…but you still need a compelling execution and I like to see more than “oh look the nose is actually a woman” come out of it. To me the above is pretty much a combination of Nagel and Escher, not so thoughtful as the Man Ray.

    But, I completely accept that it’s subjective and other people may get more out of it. The discussion of clothed vs unclothed certainly made my mind work.

  19. #19 micheleinmichigan
    November 4, 2009

    And hey, I did give credit for helping people with infertility, a socially worthy cause. I didn’t just say jacking off.

  20. #20 Jason Thibeault
    November 4, 2009

    Is saran-wrap clothing?

  21. #21 micheleinmichigan
    November 4, 2009

    Saran-wrap – Sure, and tinfoil makes a great hat.

  22. #22 Diane G.
    November 4, 2009

    IMO, she’s not “kneeling.” Nor, apparently, on the floor.

  23. #23 The Science Pundit
    November 4, 2009

    @Diane G.

    I’m guessing that you didn’t follow Greg’s link to the artist’s page.

  24. #24 Diane G.
    November 4, 2009

    Well, you were right, but I just did. Now it looks even more to me like she’s not kneeling on the floor but sitting on some platform (a stool?)…

  25. #25 Greg Laden
    November 4, 2009

    Stephanie [17]: If you paint on a shirt they won’t let you in the S.A. to buy a six pack.

    You put on a pastie. You paint on a … whatever that would be.

    You can’t take off the paint, fold it, and put it in the top drawer of a dresser.

    You don’t need to stir a pair of slacks first.

    The list of differences goes on and on.

  26. #26 Greg Laden
    November 4, 2009

    Jason [20]: Yes, of course.

    Diane [22] You are right. She’s sitting. I was confused with a different image (if you go to the artist’s site you can see movig gifs on how some of the various images were done).

  27. #27 Jason Thibeault
    November 4, 2009

    So… if you were wearing nothing but saran wrap, you couldn’t be arrested for violating any indecency laws because you’re fully clothed?

    I’d think the body paint is more concealing of your nudity.

  28. #28 Jared
    November 4, 2009

    Clothing made of saran wrap vs. body paint; what about thin, loosely woven white fabric or very loosely knitted sweaters?

    When I was 16, I had a date that showed up wearing a very loosely knitted t-shirt and no bra or undershirt, my mother said “I think she forgot something” and I replied “I hope not, I’d need bigger hands.” Meanwhile, my father was falling out of his chair laughing, my mother was not amused.

  29. #29 Stephanie Z
    November 4, 2009

    Greg, my point (which I expect you fully understand) is that nakedness has only a tangential relationship to those things we class as clothing, as Jared so eloquently explains. And some of the body paint jobs I’ve seen…yeah, they’d let me in the SA because they couldn’t tell for sure and couldn’t find out without violating their own behavioral standards.

  30. #30 Greg Laden
    November 4, 2009

    As a student of material culture, I find the line between paint/coloration and clothing to be very comfortable, useful, valid, and persistent across all human cultures and as far as we can tell from the earliest uses of both technologies. Blurring the distinction is mere pandering to poststructuralist gobbledygook. Chance are, it was your earlier comment that killed Claude Levi-Strauss!!11!!

  31. #31 Jared
    November 4, 2009

    Hey, Greg, check this out:
    It’s kind of like the spray-on spacesuit thing I read about some time back.

  32. #32 micheleinmichigan
    November 4, 2009

    You all are completely ignoring the question of the kitty’s nudity.

  33. #33 Jared
    November 4, 2009

    depends upon the material used to paint her. Latex or fiber filled paint, then she isn’t naked. If, on the other hand, it is a very thin layer of paint, she is.

  34. #34 Stephanie Z
    November 4, 2009

    Actually, michele, we’re politely ignoring the fact that kitty is wearing a very un-PC fur.