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The Art of Charlotte Dumas

By Mariann Sullivan — July 19, 2012

An exhibit recently opened at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC that looks well worth a visit.

Anima includes several series of photographs by Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas, each of which is a study of animals in a particular situation, or relationship. One series, for which Dumas is most well known, includes photographs of the remaining rescue dogs of 9/11, all of whom are now, of course, quite elderly. These photographs are also collected in Dumas’ recently published book, Retrieved.

But the exhibit includes much more. As described by a recent review in the Washington City Paper, “a 2005 series on wolves meditates on the animal’s paradoxes — they are at once loathed and revered, wild animals that are now able to survive due largely to the intervention of humans. Dumas’ beige-dominated images deftly capture an animal able to flash a pair of piercing eyes one moment yet look as cuddly as one of its canine cousins the next.” The exhibit also includes a 2008 series on homeless dogs in Palermo that is described as “even more heartrending, featuring a dozen dogs surviving obvious deprivation with rough dignity.”

There are also two series on horses, one on race horses, and one on the burial horses at Arlington National Cemetery, who work an exhausting 8 burials a day, five days a week.

Animals are often the subject of artists, but it is seldom that those artists portray animals with a view toward giving us a new perspective of the world from the animals’ point of view. Dumas appears to be doing just that. As described on her tumblr site, “In each of her projects, Dumas inspires her viewers to sympathize with the ever-caged animal, entrapped in a world dominated by the supreme mammal-human.” If you are in or around DC, this would appear to be an exhibit worth checking out.


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