Thursday, May 29, 2014

Art Goes to the Cats and Dogs

Dogs and cats, too many of which find themselves in "foster care", can no longer be bought and owned; they must be "adopted". They're no longer pets but "companion animals". And, like their human "parents", who, on separating, may or may not be awarded "visitation rights" with their felines or canines, the cats and dogs themselves can be named in wills and inherit property, depending on their state of residence. Some even get to sue if subjected to too much emotional distress.

Well, let's hear for the cats and dogs!

While our legal and other relationships to the cats and dogs in our spaces continue to evolve, one thing never seems to change: the animals fascinate as subjects for the artists among us. Celebrating that fact is Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas, Austin, which opens on June 22 "In the Company of Cats and Dogs".

And what a mix of animal art on view! For the historians, there will be pre-Columbian ceramics and ancient Egyptian sculptures; for literary types, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts and books; and for those with a solidly art-centric focus, prints, paintings, and photographs.

Takahashi (Shotei) Hiroaki
Cat Prowling Around a Stake Tomato Plant, 1931
Woodblock Print, 20-7/8" x 13-7/8"
The Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Gift of Stephanie Hamilton in Memory of Leslie A. Hamilton

From the old to the very new, the exhibition will feature dogs and cats as mythological, religious, political, and moral figures and symbols; examine the role of animals in inspiring such social movements as animal welfare and hunting and land rights; and spotlight depictions of dogs' and cats' interactions with humans (the field of anthrozoology studies).

And not to go unstated: No one will have to worry about barking, meowing, biting, fighting, or cleaning up messes on gallery floors.

Work in the show comes from the Blanton's own collection, as well as collections of Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Menil Collection, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, San Antonio Museum of Art, Yale Center for British Art, Harry Ransom Center at University of Texas at Austin, and private collections. Featured artists include Albrecht Durer, William Blake, Francisco Goya, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper, Louise Bourgeois, and William Wegman.

The museum has created several exhibition-related programs: a talk by psychologist Hal Herzog, who studies animal interactions (August 16) and is the author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals (Harper, 2010), and a showing of the 3-D documentary Canine Soldiers by filmmaker Nancy Schiesari (August 21).

The exhibition concludes September 21.

Stephnie Strasnick, "Cat Art vs. Dog Art: A Showdown at the Blanton Museum", ARTNews, April 10, 2014

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

How delightful! I'm planning another dog feature at Escape Into Life, and also a cat feature this year!