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.