Our dogged companions
We at Artstor/ITHAKA are so devoted to our canines that we share a dogspotting channel that provides a steady stream of engaging pictures. During the crisis, as we isolate with our pets, the photos and anecdotes have proliferated. In tribute to our best friends who delight and support us during this time, we would like to highlight a few of our furry colleagues. Since this is Artstor, the temptation to call up artistic alter egos is irresistible so we are presenting our companions alongside their kindred spirits in art (perhaps more in essence than in precise likeness). No disrespect intended, since a comparison to a dog is the highest form of praise!
Enzo, in a rare moment, stands still was the catalyst (sorry dogs) for this approach. His quizzical, unsparing stare immediately conjured the bespectacled gaze of the great French painter Jean-Siméon Chardin, an artist who, in fact, featured dogs in several works.
The deliciously alert vigil of Nanuk likes to people watch calls to mind the “other” — the cat goddess Bastet, perfectly poised, bestilled animal energy. While Naunk is the Inuit polar bear spirit of the hunt, Bastet is the Egyptian deity associated with protection, fertility, and domesticity.
The convention of the dog at rest has dominated imagery during the crisis. Now that we are all together 24/7 it has become apparent how much our dogs sleep (some of us even feel a little envious).
Petra begging for attention is fully prone, perhaps prepending a nap, with a knowing and flirtatious invitation to engage. Apologies once again for a feline comparison, but Barye’s hedonistic Tiger rolling reprises her pleasure-seeking pose.
Wylie, Meditations on a frisbee perfectly dogifies the Victorian trope of the melancholy maiden as in Tissot’s Convalescent, as with many other brooding characterizations of the period.
The unique corgi conformation lends itself particularly well to depictions of full sleep. Gryff just loafin’ around epitomizes the genre, classic in its simplicity and so satisfying in its associations to leavened edibles, as in Manet’s splendid Brioche.
The flipside, Vincent in repose gives over to wild, fluffy abandon and evokes the outré elegance of an Yves Saint Laurent evening sheath made of bird-of-paradise feathers. (Andy Warhol’s Self-portrait in a fright wig provides a wonderful juxtaposition but even in this context it seems a stretch to compare a dog’s belly to the likeness of an iconic artist).
Last but not least, behold the blissfully enshrouded Quincy “working from home” who finds his divine counterpart in Houdon’s Morpheus, the god of dreams. Quincy’s surrender to torpor epitomizes our synergy: while we toil at home, our affection grows for our dogs and they sleep in our stead.
With sincere thanks to our subjects and their humans for their collaboration.
– Nancy Minty, Collections editor