Gone to the dogs To err is human. Dogs, on the other hand, are faultless little angels sent into the world to make life worth living. But while their main deal is hanging about doling out unconditional love, they’ve also been known to help out as muses, sidekicks and, ah, medical professionals.
Every dog in the Art Gallery Of NSW Joel Burrows undertakes the incredibly important task of cataloguing all the very good boys immortalised at the Art Gallery Of NSW. Illustration by Felicity Case-Mejia.
ometimes choosing between looking at dogs and looking at art can be paralysing. What happens if you want them together? How could you possibly have a fulfilling weekend viewing one and not the other? So for your sake, we went to the Art Gallery Of NSW to find every dog on display. We stared at the background of over 761 artworks. We studied every abstract painting for pooch-shaped shapes. We even analysed the architecture for any puppers hidden on the walls. All in all, we mapped out 21 dog artworks that featured more than 43 good boys. However, some of you don’t have the time to go look at 43 dogs — so it is vital to narrow down the list to the five best dogs in the gallery. Did we find this task virtually impossible? Yes. Will some of you be angry at this line-up? Absolutely.
1. Town Camp Anywhere – Sally M Nangala Mulda (2018-2019)
Sometimes you go to the galleries for a fun time but instead find an important story to listen to. Town Camp Anywhere is a series that documents how the 2007 NT Intervention, a problematic Federal Government program, impacted the lives of Indigenous
communities. Nangala Mulda paints a town afflicted by prejudiced alcohol laws, job cuts and a constant and unjust police presence. There are also two dogs in one of the paintings. These brown dogs stand next to each other with the text, “hangry two dogs”, suspended above them. These dogs symbolise what’s great about everyday life. Their hunger symbolises that normality can be difficult in oppressive conditions. Town Camp Anywhere is a heart-wrenching series — on as part of The National: New Australian Art — that is worth seeing.
Then allow me to defer to Steven Miller, AGNSW’s Head of the Edmund And Joanna Capon Research Library And Archive. In a 2015 blog, Give Them Back Their Names And Their Dignity, he refers to this painting and asks, “Has nobody noticed that this is a double portrait, with each subject given equal weight by the artist? The donor of the painting, Miss Crookston, always knew the work as Portrait Of Suzanne And Penelope.” Penelope is a cute dog with the best paws in the game. She does deserve her name in the title. Let’s start a petition and change it.
2. Requiescat – Briton Riviere (1888)
4. The Railway Station, Redfern – Arthur Streeton (1893)
Riviere’s Requiescat depicts a fallen soldier with his bloodhound sitting patiently by his side. Because this is a painting, the moment is frozen in time. The dog will forever wait for his master. He will sit there, full of hope, for eternity. Shut up, we’re not crying, you’re crying.
The Railway Station, Redfern is an impressionistic landscape that evokes a gloomy Sydney day. It’s also a painting of a very good boy if you squint at the background. What we enjoy so much about this doggo is its simplicity. You are unable to ascertain if this pooch was a deliberate artistic choice or if Arthur dropped some paint onto his canvas and ran with it.
3. Portrait Of Miss Suzanne Crookston –
Arthur Murch (1935)
5. Study Of A Bloodhound – William Holman Hunt (1848)
In this portrait, we have Penelope graciously allowing a human to pose next to her. That’s right, the terrier deserves top billing. Or equal billing. Don’t believe me?
This painting deserves a place on the leaderboard for being the only canvas dedicated
to 100% doggo. It features no landscapes, humans or erotic pop art. Instead, we are treated to a smiling bloodhound with the beefiest back legs imaginable. However, this artwork does lose points for being called a ‘study’. Every dog is a masterpiece. William Hunt should feel ashamed. And there you have it, a map of all the dogs and a list of all the best boys. However, this isn’t to say that the other artworks aren’t worth looking at. I think I saw some cat paintings. I found a cute birdie or two. They are all good animals. They all deserve attention. You should go to the Art Gallery Of NSW. You should go see them today.
The National: New Australian Art is on now at the Art Gallery Of NSW, Carriageworks and the Museum Of Contemporary Art.