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August 9, 2004

UMBC's Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery presents
A Thousand Hounds:
A Walk with the Dogs Through the History of Photography

UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery presents A Thousand Hounds: A Walk with the Dogs Through the History of Photography, on display from September 20 through December 11, 2004. The exhibition was organized by the Cygnet Foundation and curated by Ray Merritt and Miles Barth.

Photography has offered a means of documentation and expression for more than 160 years. Focusing on a seemingly obscure subject, curators Raymond Merritt and Miles Barth have unearthed a delightful and varied array of images in which the dog’s presence serves as a central trope in the history of the medium. A Thousand Hounds: A Walk with the Dogs Through the History of Photography is based in part on the Cygnet Foundation’s popular and critically acclaimed book of the same title, which, when it was released by Taschen in 2000, was announced as “a completely original history of photography told through images of canines.”

The exhibition celebrates the endearing and enduring partnership between human and dog in more than 150 photographs and one photographic sculpture, which date from 1840 to the current day and have been created by both masters of the medium and lesser-known practitioners. Among the noted artists included from the nineteenth century are Gustav Le Gray, W.A. Mooers and Henry Fox Talbot, and from the twentieth century, Bill Brandt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, André Kertész, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Man Ray, Robert Mapplethorpe, Paul Strand, and Weegee. Also prominently featured are works by contemporary artists, including William Wegman, Elliott Erwitt, and Keith Carter, all renowned for their images of dogs, as well as by Larry Clark, Robert Frank, Ralph Gibson, Sally Mann, Vik Muniz, and Sandy Skoglund. The exhibition is serious and scholarly in its considered presentation of the dog’s place in momentous historical and cultural events of the past century and a half, ranging from polar expeditions to the Great Depression to the World Wars. It is also light-hearted and engaging in its celebration of photographers’ longstanding artistic interest in the canine as model, muse, and metaphor.

A Thousand Hounds: A Walk with the Dogs Through the History of Photography includes depictions of dogs with children, with women, with old men, with celebrities, and with members of their own species. Presented in two parts, its historical organization illuminates technological innovations, as well as cultural, sociological and aesthetic developments related to the medium, while contemporary work is organized thematically, with individual sections devoted to the notions of pathos, whimsy, elegance, companionship, and inspiration.

The earliest images in the exhibition introduce the viewer to the first popular application of the new medium. When photography burst onto the scene in the mid-nineteenth century, the lengthy sittings required for daguerreotypes and paper negatives made pets unlikely sitters for the portraits that were immediately commissioned by the upper and middle classes. The daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, cartes-de-visite and cabinet cards presented here exemplify attempts by anonymous photographers to memorialize all variety of man’s best friend. Moving into the twentieth century, the exhibition covers major movements in the history of photography, pictorialism and modernism. Bill Brandt’s photograph from 1945 captures a dog as a glowing silhouette in the harsh glare of car’s headlights.

A section devoted to the subject of war demonstrates how dogs have accompanied soldiers on the front from the earliest photographic depictions of battle. Photographs by Gustav Le Gray and the Mathew Brady Studio document the presence of dogs during the Crimean War and the American Civil War. Numerous other photographs show how these valued companions have transported equipment and supplies, carried messages, searched for the wounded, and galvanized troop morale and civilian support in every war since.

From the 1950s into the 1970s, photographers such as Mario Giacomelli, Robert Doisneau, Diane Arbus and Robert Frank developed a personal vision that has become synonymous with a unique photographic voice. The images presented in this exhibition reveal how each of these voices has been compelled to capture the antics of the dog. Elliott Erwitt’s humorous depictions of dogs remind us of their capacity to become companions that never cease to amuse.

In the 1980s and 1990s, photographers James Balog, Keith Carter, Michal Rover and Peter Hujar created individualistic portraits of dogs as pets or rare breeds with distinct emotions and personalities, none more memorable than William Wegman’s Weimaraners. By comparison, the inclusion of dogs in real-life or constructed narratives by Tina Barney, Nic Nicosia and Sandy Skoglund reveals the enigmatic qualities that our canine friend bring to our lives, while Robert Mapplethorpe and Scavullo remind us of the inherent elegance of the simplest of poses.

Gallery Information
The Albin O. Kuhn Gallery serves as one of the principal art galleries in the Baltimore region. Items from the Special Collections Department, as well as art and artifacts from all over the world, are displayed in challenging and informative exhibitions for the University community and the public. Moreover, traveling exhibitions are occasionally presented, and the Gallery also sends some of its exhibits throughout the state and nation. Admission to the Gallery is free.

A Thousand Hounds: A Walk with the Dogs Through the History of Photography is organized by The Cygnet Foundation. The local presentation of the exhibition is generously funded by the Maryland State Arts Council and the Friends of the Library & Gallery.

Hours of Operation
Sunday: Closed
Monday: 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday: 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Thursday: 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Friday: 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

General Gallery information: 410-455-2270
UMBC Artsline (24 hour recorded message): 410-455-ARTS
Media inquiries only: 410-455-3370

UMBC Arts website:
Gallery website:
UMBC Arts News Releases:

Images for Media
High resolution images for media are available online: or by email or postal mail. The images in this release and others are available at 300 dpi on high resolution image website.


  • From Baltimore and points north, proceed south on I-95 to exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
  • From I-695, take Exit 12C (Wilkens Avenue) and continue one-half mile to the entrance of UMBC at the intersection of Wilkens Avenue and Hilltop Road. Turn left and follow signs to the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
  • From Washington and points south, proceed north on I-95 to Exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
  • Daytime metered visitor parking is available in the Walker Avenue Garage. Visitor parking regulations are enforced on all University calendar days. Hilltop Circle and all campus roadways require a parking permit unless otherwise marked.
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Posted by dwinds1 at August 9, 2004 12:00 AM