Best Friends II: The Dog as Subject in Fine Art Photography



The relationship we have with man’s best friend is a two-way street. But in art, our canine companions are usually included as an accessory for their owners or as a symbolic reference. Images of dogs can be found in prehistoric cave art and on ancient Egyptian monuments. Today, dogs are so much a part of our lives that they are often overlooked in masterworks by artists such as Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Manet, Dali and countless others. Man’s best friend has also inspired prose and poetry through the ages. James Thurber, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Steinbeck, Lord Byron and Woodrow Wilson all memorialized dogs in print. And, of course, Snoopy and Hank the Cowdog can speak for themselves. Pairing famous quotes about dogs with individual photographs, a favorite part of the first Best Friends exhibition at The Grace in 2009, returns by popular demand.

Best Friends II: the dog as subject in fine art photography presents individual dogs as primary subject. Each photograph is an outstanding example of the photographer’s ability to instill an image with much more than just a faithful record of the dogs’ appearance. Many of the photographs could be labeled portraits because of the obvious affection the photographer has for the particular dog in the photograph. Well known twentieth-century photographers William Wegman and Elliot Erwitt have made their reputations on their iconic images of dogs. The photographs selected for this exhibition explore the universal symbiotic relationship between people and their dogs as captured on film by photographers William Wegman, Elliott Erwitt, Keith Carter, O. Rufus Lovett, Bill Hogan, Allison V. Smith, Zed Nelson, and many others from the private collection of Alice and Bill Wright and The Grace Museum Wright Photography Collection.

Alice and Bill Wright began collecting “dog pictures” early in their careers. As dog lovers and professional photographers they found the combination of technical merit and subject matter irresistible. The Wrights have generously shared their expertise of and passion for fine art photography with The Grace Museum through the gift of over 600 important photographs to the collection. Through the the Alice and Bill Wright Photography Collection and Gallery, The Grace Museum.