Apr 15, 2012 - Blue Dog    Comments Off

Interview with the dogs: Lassie and Wishbone on 20th Century Modern Art

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(A paper written for Art History class. Instructions were to “interview” fictional characters about your ideas, theme, connections to history, and motivation for staging a museum-type show. It should include the mention of at least THREE artists who will be in your show and some thoughts about the installation and presentation style.)

Lassie is the stage name of “Pal”, a male collie dog trained by Rudd Weatherwax. He performed in six MGM feature films through 1951 and a long-running, Emmy winning television series. Pal’s descendants continue to play Lassie today.

Wishbone: is the stage name of “Soccer”, a Jack Russell Terrier who played a dog who sees parallels between classic literature and the dilemmas he and his human friends face every day. The Emmy-Award winning PBS show ran from 1995 – 1998.

Annie Alpert is a collector of dog art and a student at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

(Key: L = “Lassie”; W = “Wishbone”; AA = “Annie Alpert”

AA: Hi guys. Thanks for coming. I’d like to discuss dog imagery in Twentieth-Century Modernism.

L: ???

W: You mean like art and stuff?

AA: Well, yes. The dog has always been a favorite subject for artists, but in the 20th Century, artists appeared to reject traditional techniques and subject matter—yet, dogs have remained a favorite muse for many otherwise non-traditional artists. Do you have any thoughts on why this may be?

L: Er, wuff? (pant pant)

W: Well, we’re really cute and all. Also we work for scraps.

L: Arf Arf Woof.

AA: Ah, what did he say?

W: He said, “We’re true blue and loyal, and a dog will never let you down, even if you fall into a well or something.”

AA: Oh, I see. Right. Um. . .

W: the point is, we always stick around and if an artist needs something to paint, we’re there. Plus, we’re really cute and all.

AA: “Man’s best friend”, right?

L: Arfety arf arf!!!

W: Ha! Ha! Good one, Lassie. He said, “As Groucho Marx once remarked, ‘Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read!”

L: (snurf snuffle smirk).

(All laugh)

AA: Do you have any favorite artists who used dogs as inspiration?

L: Rouwf!

W: I don’t think Timmy was an artist, dude.

L: Grrrr.

W: Just sayin’, man. Now David Hockney really got into painting his Dachshunds, Stanley and Boodgie. Of course, all the paintings look alike to me, but he did get a book out of it.

AA: You mean “David Hockney’s Dog Days”? Charming little book.

L: GGGRayhooond.

AA: Greyhounds? Like Edwin Megargee’s iconic interpretation of the greyhound logo for Greyhound bus lines in 1927?

L: Ruff!

AA: That was a very modernist interpretation, and it’s still in use today!

W: And what about William Wegman’s Weimaraner photos of Fay Wray and Man Ray? He was on Sesame Street while my show was running. Remember my show? “Wishbone”? I was on it. We won four Emmies”

AA: Yep, my kids and I used to watch it a lot.

W: A lot? Not all the time?

AA: Err

L: Woof (pant pant) Snoof. Arf. Snuffle.

AA: ??

W: He says he likes Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog series. He says he saw one in the plaza next to where the World Trade Center used to be. He did “Good Morning America” in NYC.

AA: Ooh, oh, right! My favorite was Jeff Koons’ “Puppy”, the topiary steel sculpture of a West Highland white terrier puppy, covered with flowers!

W: (Heh heh) Good times. Good times.

L: (Gurgle)

AA: Well, thanks guys. Best wishes with your future endeavors.

L: Snork.

W: Goodnight, dude.

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