On the occasion of Menagerie: Animals on View, we're taking a closer look at several of the thematic groupings in the exhibition. This week: Dogs.
As dogs have been domesticated and made an increasingly integral part of people’s lives, they have also become a popular artistic subject. Mongrels and mutts have been referred to not only as man’s best friend but also as the artist’s, selflessly serving as faithful mates and a never-ending source of inspiration. In fact, even the Greek philosopher Plato (ca. 427–347 BCE) praised the dog as a “beast worthy of wonder.” In the ancient world dogs symbolized the afterlife, and in later Western art they became associated with themes of loyalty and honesty. More than any other animal, they have come to personify a remarkably wide spectrum of human values and emotions. In the works featured in Menagerie: Animals on View, the canine transcends its role as a companion. Instead, it embodies elements of angst, sadness, and melancholy as well as contentment, humor, and vitality.