. Posted by Ken Hall.

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Who let the dog out?


I was browsing recently through the online collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and came to an abrupt halt before a sculptural work by the artist Marisol, a detail of which is shown here.

<p>Detail from <em>Women and Dog</em>, Marisol, 1964. Wood, plaster, synthetic polymer, taxidermic dog head, and miscellaneous items, dimensions variable.</p>

Detail from Women and Dog, Marisol, 1964. Wood, plaster, synthetic polymer, taxidermic dog head, and miscellaneous items, dimensions variable.

Women and Dog is a mixed-media multiple self-portrait by the artist Marisol (b.1935), who has regularly used taxidermy specimens and other found objects in her work. I'd seen the work published before somewhere, but had never quite made this particular connection: this is, the striking resemblance between the 'taxidermic dog head' (as it is described on the web page) and the extinct New Zealand kuri, or 'Maori dog' (Canis lupus familiaris). (Check out a Google image search for kuri and dog and see whether or not you reach the same conclusion.)

It seems thoroughly feasible that a stuffed New Zealand kuri specimen could have made its way to North America sometime in the 19th century, eventually to a junkshop or other such source for Marisol's art making stuff. I think the likeness is clear. It would probably be worthwhile for a specialist scholar to contact the Whitney about it, perhaps even thinking about a DNA test... 

<p>LM002857. Mounted dog head, claimed to be a kuri (Maori dog). Photo Alan Tennyson, Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa</p>

LM002857. Mounted dog head, claimed to be a kuri (Maori dog). Photo Alan Tennyson, Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa

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