Chances are, at some point in your life, a pet or animal has inspired your imagination, provided you with love and companionship or taught you something about the wonder of the world around you.
Animals in art appear throughout history, wiggling their way into iconic paintings where they dutifully serve as background detail, faithful friends and even portrait-worthy subject matter. ‘Animal As Muse,’ which opens March 24 at the Akron Art Museum, showcases artwork from the museum’s collection that features artists’ conceptions of animals in many of the inspirational roles they play in humans’ lives.
Educator for Early Childhood and Family Programs Amanda Crowe said, “Artists from Picasso to Warhol were inspired by their beloved pets. Animals, with or without human counterparts, intrigue us and engage us emotionally, providing so much for artists to explore and reflect upon.”
‘Animal As Muse’ includes artwork that ranges from fanciful and surreal conceptions of wildlife, such as Ellen Lanyon’s painting, “The Disguise” — in which a pair of lunar moths seem to combine to create the countenance of a lion — to realistic depictions of human-animal interactions. Among these is Sandra Weiner’s 1973 photograph, “Easter Morning, Ninth Avenue, 1973,” which captures a moment of play between a child and a pet dog on a sunny New York sidewalk.
Additional work on view will include photographs by Pavel Banka and Helen Levitt, and a glittering assemblage of beads, costume jewels and found objects by outsider artist Simon Sparrow, who fashioned the items to create a vibrant image of a green snake.
Crowe said, “’Animal As Muse’ will be displayed in our Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation Gallery, where we create exhibitions that are interactive and engage the community in new or stimulating ways. So, for ‘Animals As Muse,’ we’ll have a touchable wall of faux animal textures, masks, animal sorting and classifying experiences and, with great anticipation, we invite you to nestle into our human-sized nest paired with children’s picture books in the Rory and DeeDee O’Neil Lobby. “
“Animal As Muse” will be on view from March 24 through Aug. 14, at the Akron Art Museum.
This exhibition is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by a generous gift from The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation.
The Akron Art Museum, dedicated to enriching lives through modern and contemporary art, showcases regional, national and international art created since 1850. The museum’s collection is presented in a spectacular facility designed by Viennese architectural firm Coop Himmelb(l)au and includes over 5,000 works of art, with a strong focus on contemporary painting, sculpture and photography. Nearly a dozen exhibitions each year present prominent artists in various media including painting, sculpture, photography, video, design and glass.
In addition to its ever-changing collection and exhibitions, the museum offers many opportunities to live creative through programs that include films and video, lectures, workshops, tours and concerts. Visit www.akronartmuseum.org.