When I lived in New York, I had the good fortune to visit a few museums in the company of Thomas Hoving , the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. With him, there was no slow shuffling past endless works, dedicating a minute or two to each. Instead we hoofed through galleries intent on a destination, with Hoving discouraging us from taking in the sights along the way. Then we’d arrive at the pre-selected work, with fresh eyes, and spend time, lots of it, taking in one piece. I learned that one masterpiece appreciated deeply is, for me, a richer experience than taking in many works superficially. To this day, that’s how I do most big museums.
What’s this got to do with Bark? Well, if you live anywhere near Yale University Art Gallery  in New Haven, Conn., consider taking the Hoving-approach to their current Picasso exhibition. Leave most of the 70 works to the others, and spend some serious time with his wonderful 1921 Cubist dog painting—“Dog and Cock.”
A pointy-eared pooch with fringy fur sniffs at the edge of a fully loaded dinner table. Tongue out. Not only do we see this scene played out more than we’d like in our own homes, dogs begging at banquets are a long artistic tradition. The light humor of this familiar moment makes appreciating Picasso’s Cubist technique a total delight.
Learn more about Bark’s take on this masterwork in the May 2009 issue. “Picasso and the Allure of Language ” runs through May 24 at the Yale University Art Gallery, Chapel and York Streets, New Haven.
Bonus Track: Picasso was no stranger to the habits of dogs. He shared his life with many including Lump the Dachshund, an Afghan Hound named Kabul , and a Boxer named Jan. To see fantastic images of Pablo Picasso and his canine confrères, check out David Douglas Duncan ’s online Picasso gallery.