Colin Gleadell of London's Telegraph reports that the debut of ShContemporary, Shanghai's first art fair, surpassed all expectations. He also notes that a Lucian Freud naked portrait of a man with a dog was priced at $16 million. This sent me on a quest to find the painting. Alas, I was unsuccessful. But I had an excellent time discovering Freud, a painter I have always loved, as a dog artist.
Pluto and Eli were Freud's beloved Whippets.
I love these dogs for the same reason I love Freud's nudes. Not for their realism (it's not what he does) but, to borrow from Stephen Colbert, for their "truthiness." You can almost smell the dogs, feel their weight and the heat of their breath. I've seen many picture-perfect dog paintings, but that's what they are, pictures of dogs. These are dogs with their aches, and their age, and their unique doggy odor. And I think they're spectacular.
Bella, Freud's daughter, works her dog love into her fashion line, featuring Pluto t-shirts designed from one of her father's sketches. Order yours on her very dog-centric website.
Interestingly, Sigmund Freud, Lucian Freud's grandfather, was not only a dog lover but was also known to include his dog as an assistant in his psychoanalysis.
"Freud felt that dogs had a special sense that allows them to judge a person's character accurately. For this reason his favorite Chow-Chow, Jo-Fi, attended all of his therapy sessions; Freud admitted that he often depended upon Jo-Fi for an assessment of the patient's mental state... [The dog] would alert him to any stress or tension in a patient…He lay relatively close to calm patients, but would stay across the room if the patient was tense. Jo-Fi also helped the great psychoanalyst determine when a therapy session was finished by unfailingly getting up and moving toward the office door when the hour was up." (source: What Do Dogs Know? by Stanley Coren and Janet Walker.)
Limited edition photo of Sigmund Freud on a balcony with his two dogs is available from LMT Gallery on ebay. Starting bid is $7.50.