PORTRAIT OF A DOG: AN ART ICON THROUGH THE AGES
Characterised as man’s best friend and a symbol of unconditional love, loyalty, and well, everything cute and cuddly in the animal kingdom; dogs are a celebrated subject matter in the art world. The essence of our dogs is captured across every art medium, interpreted through classic oil and watercolour paintings, pop-art sculpture, national monuments, guerrilla street art, photography, book illustration and animated characters. Let’s take an express trip from the 1800’s to present in appreciation of illustrious artists, and experimental doggy-inspired pieces; each with their own story behind the puppy dog eyes.
The Dog, Pablo Picasso – Abstract Sketch, Year Unknown
Simply titled ‘The Dog’, Pablo Picasso’s line drawing depicts Lump, German for ‘rascal’, a gorgeous Daschund that had a special bond with the famed artist - and whom Picasso adopted as his own. Their loving relationship is well documented and Lump features in several of Picasso’s 1950’s paintings. We’re obsessed with the idea that Picasso was a dog lover too!
Dogs Playing Poker, Cassius Marcellus Coolidge – Oil Painting, 1903
Likely the first image that comes to mind when you consider recognised dog-art depiction, Coolidge’s classic image of doggys playing cards, drinking and smoking cigars was part of a commissioned series of oil paintings all featuring similar scenes. The most well-known, this painting titled ‘A Friend In Need’ that has become synonymous with kitschy art prints in homes across the globe.
Well, we’d invite these pups over for a game of poker any night of the week!
Work of William Wegman – Photography and Painting, 1982 - Present
Still a modern-day pack leader in dog photography, Wegman’s famous photos feature his own beloved Weimaraners in abstract compositions with everyday furniture and human clothing. These pups' people-like personalities really shine through.
Balloon Dogs (Celebration Series), Jeff Koons – Stainless Steel Sculptures, 1994
Talk about next level animal balloons! Contemporary artist Koons is renowned for his statement sculptures using mirror-polished stainless steel and transparent colour coating. These oversized, prize-winning pop art pooches were created in Blue, Magenta, Orange, Red and Yellow versions; we’ll just take one in every colour please!
Dog Peeing on Fire Hydrant, Banksy – Graffiti Art, 2013
It’s a rite of passage on our daily ‘walkies’: doggy sees hydrant, doggy lifts leg and it’s this ritualistic act that anonymous street artist and activist Banksy exhibited on the streets of New York City. It’s not the only pup to feature in a Banksy original and you can’t help but see the humour in art imitating life and the clever nod to his own words, “Dogs are the original graffiti artists”.
Labrador Jazz (Shakin’ Dogs), Iris Scott – Finger Painting Graffiti Art, 2016
One in a collection of Iris Scott Shakin’ Dogs artworks, this captivating piece using Scott’s signature and unique style of professional finger painting really is all that jazz. This Labrador pup in motion is captivating, and shakes right off the canvas.
Snoopy Sleeps Under A Starry Night, Aja Kusick – Acrylic Painting, 2016
A cultural icon of a different kind, Charlie Brown’s pet Snoopy is the hero dog of many childhoods. The paradox of a cartoon Snoopy taking front and centre in a replica of one of Vincent Van Gogh’s most well-renowned post-impressionist artworks is enchanting.
After having one of her paintings mistaken for an original Van Gogh, Kusick took inspiration and created a colourful acrylic series referencing pop culture characters combined with signature Van Gogh style brushwork.
This technicoloured dream has us wishing we could fall asleep under the stars with our puppy pal Snoopy.