Howling Dog Effigy, Jalisco, 300 BC-AD 200.
Why were dogs so significant to the Mexica?
Dogs were associated with the god of death, Xolotl, among the Mexicas of the highlands of Mexico. Both a dog and Xolotl were thought to lead the soul to the underworld. The skinny body and white hue of the shown dog represented above may have underworld connotations, connecting it to this belief. Xolotl was also associated by the Mexica with the planet Venus as the evening star, and was portrayed with a canine head.
The dog’s special relationship with humans is highlighted by a number of Colima dog effigies wearing humanoid masks. This curious effigy type has been interpreted as a shamanic transformation image or as a reference to the modern Huichol myth of the origin of the first wife, who was transformed from a dog into a human. However, recent scholarship suggests a new explanation of these sculptures as the depiction of the animal’s tonalli, its inner essence, which is made manifest by being given human form via the mask.The use of the human face to make reference to an object’s or animal’s inner spirit is found in the artworks of many ancient cultures of the Americas, from the Inuit of Alaska and northern Canada to peoples in Argentina and Chile. (Walters)
On the subject of the significance of dogs, and dog effigies wearing humanoid masks, check out this post from a while back of ‘examples of dogs represented in ancient Mexican art.’ The final artefact here is from Colima, and shows a dog wearing a human mask.
Oil on canvas, previously attributed to Johann Zoffany, 1779;
Dido Elizabeth Belle is depicted here with her cousin Elizabeth Murray. This painting scandalised many of it’s 18th century audience due to its portrayal of Belle, a woman of colour, in a non-subservient position. Considered to be one of the first paintings to do so, it was probably commissioned by Belle’s father Admiral Sir John Lindsay in the late 1770’s.
Tughra (Official Signature) of Sultan Suleiman. Istanbul, Turkey. c. 1555-1560. Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper.
The photography of William Eggleston
A native Southerner raised on a cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta, Eggleston has created a singular portrait of his native South since the late 1960s. After discovering photography in the early 1960s, he abandoned a traditional education and instead learned from photographically illustrated books by Walker Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Frank. Although he began his career making black-and-white images, he soon abandoned them to experiment with color technology to record experiences in more sensual and accurate terms at a time when color photography was largely confined to commercial advertising. In 1976 with the support of John Szarkowski, the influential photography historian, critic, and curator, Eggleston mounted “Color Photographs” a now famous exhibition of his work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. William Eggleston’s Guide , in which Szarkowski called Eggleston’s photographs “perfect,” accompanied this groundbreaking one-person show that established his reputation as a pioneer of color photography. His subjects were mundane, everyday, often trivial, so that the real subject was seen to be color itself. These images helped establish Eggleston as one of the first non-commercial photographers working in color and inspired a new generation of photographers, as well as filmmakers.
Eggleston has published his work extensively. He continues to live and work in Memphis, and travels considerably for photographic projects. (x)