Friday, October 19, 2018

Something artful to aMUSE you…

Greetings and salutations from Clancy, your humble Patron of the Arfs (and potential artist’s muse)!

As you undoubtedly know, dogs are considered man’s best friend, and rightfully so. Saint Bernards have traditionally warmed lost Alpine climbers with flasks of brandy. Dogs serve as seeing-eye dogs and provide assistance for a wide range of human conditions as emotional support animals. They search for bombs to keep people safe. And, it seems, dogs have often served as furry, four-legged muses to inspire artists; hence this week’s blog about famous artists who paint dogs. (Can you blame them?)

Take, for instance artist Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973), who had many loves during his life. Aside from his multiple wives and assorted mistresses, Picasso loved dogs, one of whom was his Dalmatian “Perro” (Spanish for dog). Lump was Picasso’s cherished Dachshund. The artist is shown below with both dogs and an original drawing of Lump. He remarked: “It took me a whole lifetime to learn how to draw like a child again.” (Thanks, I’m sure, in no small part to Perro and Lump.)


Artist George Rodrigue (1944 – 2013) of Louisiana painted his famous Blue Dog series based on a photo of his late dog, Tiffany. Loyal pooch that she was, she sat beside the Cajun artist’s easel to keep him company as he painted late into the night. When viewing the Blue Dog paintings, people would often stare at its eyes and begin to cry. Rodrigue noted: “The yellow eyes are really the soul of the dog. He has this piercing stare. People say the dog keeps talking to them with his eyes, always saying something different.” Among the many philanthropic causes Rodrigue established is Blue Dog Relief, raising millions for humanitarian aid after both 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina.


Bessie Pease Gutmann (1876 – 1960) was an American artist and illustrator. Her husband, Hellmuth Gutmann and his brother, Bernard, had founded the fine art publishing company, Gutmann and Gutmann in New York in 1902. Bessie and Hellmuth married in 1906 and settled in South Orange, NJ. Setting up a studio in their home, Bessie painted their three little ones and became one of the era’s leading artists to portray the innocence of children. Her famous painting, In Disgrace, depicts her tearful toddler, Lucille, nose to the wall in utter shame. Teddy, Lucille’s puppy, longs to console her and snuggles her to share the blame, looking back at the viewer with an irresistibly sad expression.

Artist Jim Daly’s Tough Love presents a contrite little boy standing in the shadow of his mother. Her posture is stern, his remorseful. The empty glove suggests the missing baseball may be the culprit. The boy’s loyal dog is his ally, shielding him while sharing the blame. Writes Daly:  “When I was a boy, I was in the doghouse more than once, and I believed that all of my troubles would be over when I grew up. Life's problems, however, are with us always, and when they seem to be overwhelming and impossible to overcome, there is no way of measuring the unconditional love of a friend.” (Especially a furry one with a cold, comforting nose!)

Canadian artist Michael Dumas painted Gypsy, inspired by a trip abroad: 

“The subject for this piece was observed in the French city of Arles, just inside the entrance of a narrow side street that accessed the busy central square. In this relative calm and quiet location, the man seemed lost in thought, trusting his four-footed companion to warn him of the approach of strangers. The contrast between the man's contemplative mood and the dog's alertness interested me greatly, and in the painting I pushed the thread of this idea as far as I could. Placing the dog between any observer and his master, and with his gaze directed straight at the viewer, there is little doubt of the dog's unwavering diligence. As a last touch, I added an arched shadow into the area at upper right, hoping to enhance the idea of a protective space. This shape was inspired by observing its real-life counterpart in the many access points to the old Roman Coliseum just a few streets away.”       

American pop artist Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987) took his dachshund, Archie, everywhere he went: out to dinner, to art show openings, and, of course, to his studio where he immortalized him for posterity in his own inimitable style.

American nostalgia artist Norman Rockwell (1894 – 1978) often painted dogs, making them central in his compositions because of the important role they play within families. His own dog, Pitter, hung out with him in the studio. Rockwell said, “If a picture wasn’t going very well, I’d put a puppy dog in it.” He recommended that other artists depict four-legged creatures “just as carefully and understandingly as you paint the people."


So if iconic artists such as those noted here derive so much inspiration from their furry companions, who am I to disagree? (And if any artists out there are reading this and would like to portray a certain handsome Lakeland Terrier and his sister, it can be easily arranged for a nominal fee of doggie treats and belly rubs. Just give my agent a call - kiss kiss!)



Clancy & Shayna
(Your Patrons of the Arfs)

No comments: