Canines take center stage in the latest virtual art exhibition from The Al Hirschfeld Foundation, The Dog Show: Hounds by Hirschfeld. Running through Sunday, August 15, the exhibit features drawings created by the artist between 1924-2001, featuring some of the most famous pooches of the 20th century, along with some not-so-famous dogs who were loved by their humans.
Curated from the Foundation’s extensive collection of Hirschfeld’s works by Archives Manager Katherine Eastman (a Certified Professional Dog Trainer on her days off, who brings her two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chandler and Bennett, to work with her every day), the show includes familiar canines from The Thin Man, Frasier, and Lassie, Broadway musicals The Wiz, Annie, Gypsy, and The Will Rogers Follies, and more. Eastman noted, “Westminster may be over, but this dog show is ready to begin. For this exhibition, we’ve searched through the Hirschfeld archive for images of dogs of every size and shape. You’ll learn some fun facts about different breeds. Maybe you’ll even fall in love with a breed and start looking for your next best friend.”
An icon of the NYC arts community, Hirschfeld, self-described as a “characterist,” was declared a Living Landmark by the New York City Landmarks Commission in 1996, and a Living Legend by The Library of Congress in 2000. Just prior to his death in January 2003, he learned he was to be awarded the Medal of Arts from the National Endowment of the Arts and inducted into the Academy of Arts and Letters. A winner of two Tony Awards, he was given the ultimate Broadway accolade on what would have been his 100th birthday in June 2003, when the Martin Beck Theater was renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theater.
The artist’s signature linear calligraphic style of caricature drawings appeared in virtually every major publication of the last nine decades (including a 75-year relationship with The New York Times), as well as on numerous book and record covers and fifteen US postage stamps. And dogs are depicted in drawings of nearly every category of his work, from theater, film, television, music, and literature, to politics, private commissions, and his earliest lithographs.
For this show, the pictured dogs have been sorted by breed, just as they are in the best dog shows, with each of the seven American Kennel Club groups represented – Sporting, Working, Terrier, Hound, Toy, Herding, and Non-Sporting – along with a final “Miscellaneous Mutt Group.” Included with the images are virtual labels and descriptions of the people, shows, breeds, and individual dogs, captured for posterity by the legendary artist.
For additional information, viewers can watch a special episode of The Hirschfeld Century Podcast, beginning on Monday, July 19, on The Dog Show: Hounds by Hirschfeld. The podcast will also be available on iTunes and other popular platforms.