Animals have occupied an important place in art throughout history. Inspired by works in the Gibbes permanent collection and several private collections, Out of the Wild: Animals in Contemporary Art showcases works by three contemporary American artists, William Dunlap, Walton Ford, and Grainger McKoy. Working in a variety of media, these artists employ animal imagery to explore contemporary culture, and humans evolving relationship to the natural world. While their works celebrate the form and natural beauty of both wild and domestic species, the artists also examine political, social, psychological, and spiritual themes.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, Dunlap captures the artist's surreal, disturbing, and sometimes humorous interpretations of the American landscape in paintings, sculptures, constructions, and mixed-media installations. He is a preeminent portrayer of place, especially his native South.
When art reviewers attempt to pin him down, Mississippi-born artist William Dunlap has called what he does "hypothetical realism." "These places and situations don't exist, but they could," he says. As the book Dunlap demonstrates, the artist and his work resist classification. Images of animals, flowers, Old Masters, found objects, and artifacts explode from traditional, pastoral landscapes. On the margins, in the middle ground, or in a dark lowering sky, foggy letters whisper a witty aside or reveal a crucial place name.
Dunlap includes more than 100 full-color reproductions and features work from every stage of a career spanning more than three decades. An essay by J. Richard Gruber, director of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, gives both an overview of Dunlap's career and establishes the artist in the context of contemporary American art. The book strengthens William Dunlap's reputation as a major American artist.