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Old 04-03-2019, 10:33 PM   #1
xoxoxoBruce
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April 4th, 2019: Museum of the Dog

♫ New York, New York, a helluva town.
♪ The Bronx is up, but the Battery's down.
♫ And Dog Museum, Manhattan mid-town.
♪ New York, New York, it's a helluva town!

Who’s a good museum? It’s you! Yes it is! It’s you, you’re the good museum!



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Despite what the sudden arrival of cat cafés across New York might imply, the city boasts a dog population that’s 20% higher than their whiskered colleagues, according to data from a 2012 NYECD study. It should therefore come as no surprise that New York now boasts a two-story museum in midtown devoted to dogs. The galleries are stuffed to the brim with oodles of poodles and painted Pomeranians. But are these artworks worthy of, say, Pugcasso — or are they just plain Shih Tzu?


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Returning to the city after a 30-year stint in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, the American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog toes the line between brilliant and banal. As the recent parent of my own fur baby (shameless plug), I have little reason to reject an opportunity to bask in the cuteness of a few dozen portraits of good boys and girls. But the art critic within me expects much more from a museum than images of moody poodles by the seashore. Rest assured, there are a handful of bright spots in the AKC’s art collection, but the current curatorial program is overwrought in its emphasis on dog gravitas and regality.


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Scattered throughout the museum are crowd-pleasing technological diversions like an augmented realty game of fetch with a cartoon dog. Upon first arriving to the museum, most visitors will likely head straight for the touch-screen monolith that matches your photo with the dog breed you most resemble. (The program identified me as a German Pinscher, which it describes as “vivacious” among other adjectives. Dear reader, under no uncertain terms has anyone ever described me as “vivacious.”)


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Elsewhere though, the museum reminds us how humans have engineered dogs for centuries. Where would the American Kennel Club be, after all, if it wasn’t for these canine eugenics projects that have resulted in hundreds of different breeds? (The organization officially recognizes only 192 dog breeds from an estimated 340 known throughout the world.)


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Here the museum is at its best, drawing a connection from the institution to its art collection through the narrative of breeding. Still, I would imagine that a more critical museum divorced from such an authoritative organization would more critically address the links between breeding programs and their results. For whatever positive results human-engineered diversity in dogs has wrought, there are countless examples of dogs who have shorter lifespans and health conditions. Looking at you, bulldogs and beagles.
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Old 04-04-2019, 11:50 AM   #2
Gravdigr
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I'm calling BS. All that, and not a single painting, not even a mention, of dogs playing poker.

And I didn't see no black velvet anywhere.

BS I says.
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Old 04-04-2019, 03:55 PM   #3
xoxoxoBruce
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That's what he said...
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but the current curatorial program is overwrought in its emphasis on dog gravitas and regality.
Probably moving from the St Louis suburbs to New York City gave them the idea they had to be stuffy to prove they're legit. The dogs are player poker in the boiler room.
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Old 04-04-2019, 07:09 PM   #4
Diaphone Jim
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Saw this at the Tate is London years ago and it has been my favorite since.
"Dignity and Impudence" by Sir Edwin Longseer, 1839

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/w...0/N00604_9.jpg
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Old 04-05-2019, 12:16 AM   #5
xoxoxoBruce
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That's a perfect title for that painting.
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