Sunset Dachshunds
Just for Fun
Although seldom discussed in the writings of most art historians, the wiener dog (or dachshund, as at least twelve people still insist in calling it) was
intermittently a favorite subject of many artists, including several of the Great Masters (although this remains controversial). In fact, throughout the history
of mankind, the wiener dog has often been utilized as a symbol for many of our human traits: love, war, greed, fear, hypochondria, and swollen glands, to
name just a few of the more common ones.
By way of example, the fear of weiner dogs, lytlelongdogophobia, was most prevalent in Mesopotamia around 500 B.C. and the art from the time reflected
that culture's anxiety toward this little animal. Other societies, however, revered the canine, although we know little of these people since their civilizations
lasted, on average, three to five weeks.
Why the wiener dog has found it's way into our hearts and minds, and ultimately our culture, is difficult to say. We know only that, somehow, this small,
sausage-shaped dog with its shrill, high-pitched bark and sometimes neurotic behavior has touched something we recognize deep inside ourselves.
The following section represents a small but certainly sufficient glimpse into this little-known and unfortunately neglected area of art history. Note: We
would like to thank the world's major collectors of wiener dog art (both of whom insisted on anonymity) for allowing their paintings to be reprinted here
.
Cave Art
Location: Southern France c. 15,000 B.C.
In 1909, paleontologist Arnold Zimmerman stumbled across
this Paleolithic cave painting in southern France. It is
undoubtedly the earlist known form of wiener dog art,
estimated to be around 17,000 years old. The drawing is a
clear depiction of
Weenus giganticus, commonly known
as the woolly wiener dog - a creature that according to
Professor Zimmerman, "must have struck utter terror in the
hearts of primitive mail carriers."
Zimmerman's discovery ultimately brought him only grief, as
other scientists began to question the legitimacy of this cave
painting. (Special but unconclusive tests indicated the actual
"paint" contained chemicals closely akin to a Magic Marker.)
Through the storm
Artist: Boris Stromberg 64 x 64, oil on canvas c. 1600
The Wienerkings (also known as Dachsmen) were aggressive,
seafaring warriors who pestered European coastal villages in
the eighth and ninth centuries. They were never known to
actually kill anyone, but, instead, preferred to stab annoyingly
at their victim's ankles. Perhaps even more interesting was their
battle cry, described in some ancient legends as a "sort of
yipping sound."
The Wienerkings vanished rather quickly, and historians are in
dispute as to exactly why. The most prevalent theory,
however, is that they may have repeatedly and inadvertently
crossed paths with the Rottweilerites, another obscure people
that just about everyone avoided.
The Bitches of Paradise
Artist: Bernardo Bartolini 54 x 48, oil on canvas c. 1608
The Renaissance saw the emergence of the "chunkified" wiener
dog in the style of the seventeenth-century Baroque art. Here,
we see one such piece by Bernardo Bartolini (although he
apparently preferred to sign his works with an informal
"Bernie"). In 1612, Bernardo was commissioned to do a wiener
dog fresco for King Giovanni D'Amento IV. Unfortunately, a
revolt, led by a small clique of art critics, dethroned Giovanni -
and Bernardo was arrested before he could begin his work.
Giovanni was beheaded, and Bernardo was slapped around for
a good five minutes and then released.
Wiener Dog with Head Turned
Artist: Pablo Picasso? 26x24, oil on canvas 1954
This is one of the more controversial works in this section. In
1986, this painting went on the auction block and a Japanese
collector paid $38 million for what he believed was one of
Picasso's startling interpretations of the wiener dog. Shortly
thereafter, however, several experts came forth to challenge
the painting's authenticity. New estimates now place the
work's value somewhere between $14 and $22, most of that
amount being attributed to the nice frame.
Bottle, Apple, Book, and Bowl of Wiener Dogs
Artist: Unknown 36 x 32, watercolor 1946
The wiener dog, especially in postwar Europe, was a
frequent subject for still-life artists, almost to the point of
cliche. Bowls of wiener dogs, baskets of wiener dogs,
tubs of wiener dogs, dried wiener dogs, stuffed wiener
dogs, and a myriad of other variations on this theme
represented a quirky but strong artisitic trend for seven
and a half years. And then it stopped.
Runaways
Artist: Samuel L. Sullivan 28 x 22, oil on canvas 1896
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, weiner dogs were
brought West in great herds by the backing of wealthy "wiener
barons." These drives were occasionally enormous in scale,
sometimes consisting of well over half a billion animals. There
are two major routes (or "Wiener Trails") across the country,
one starting in Boston and ending in San Francisco, the other
starting in Chicago, circling that city several times (for greater
momentum), dropping down to Dallas, back to Chicago
(usually an error), down into New Mexico, and ending in what
was then called Wienerville, Arizona (now an uninhabited area
but nenowned for its rich topsoil).
The Persistence of Wiener Dogs
Artist: Salador Dali? 24 x 20, oil on canvas c. 1938
We have no conclusive proof that this is indeed the work
of Salvador Dali, but we're pretty sure. The signature on
the painting, believed to be a pseudonym, is actually
"Labrador Dali," but most experts recognize (reluctantly)
the unique stamp of the famous Spanish surrealist.
The Whine
Artist: Edward Munch? 18 x 28,
oil on canvas 1891
Once again, we have here a work
in which the creator's identity
technically remains a mystery, but
whose disturbing, provocative use
of the wiener dog practically
screams, "Edvard, you veirdo you!"
This painting, along with a handful
of other works by various artists,
was stolen several years ago from
one of New York's pretty good
art museums. The brazen theft was
a devatating blow to the art
community. Interestingly enough,
however, the very next day this
particular painting was returned,
found leaning against one of the
museum's outside walls. According
to the museum's curator at the
time, the loss of all the works was
an extreme offense, "but the return
of 'The Whine' was absolutely the
last straw."
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