Dogs have bedazzled photographers since the advent of the camera with their eager-to-please ways and earnest, soulful eyes. Using the hound as subject and object, photographers have told some of the most important stories of our time. The dog becomes an artistic substitute for man, a way to tell man’s stories, posing as companion, servant, savior, and entertainer in every historical context. But more than that, through the photographer’s lens, the dog’s own place in the world is defined. Lap dog of luxury or Rin Tin Tin.
Manuel Alvarez Bravo, one of Mexico’s masters of photography, once said that if all he ever did was to photograph a thousand hounds, he would die a happy man. Something in that statement clicked for two New Yorkers, Ray Merritt and Miles Barth, who too felt the draw of the dogs. They compiled a book, A Thousand Hounds, and have now put together an extraordinary exhibition out of the photographs featured in the book, dating from the mid 19th century to today. The exhibition will travel to many cities across the United States and internationally until 2003.
Let us walk you through a few of the photographs from an exhibit that’s inspiring countless thousands of wagging tails.