Art&Culture

The Running of the Dogs

Michael Crouser’s Dog Run was never intended to be what it became: a series of provocative black and white photographs of mutts interacting in urban playgrounds.

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The Running of the Dogs

Michael Crouser’s Dog Run was never intended to be what it became. The series of provocative black and white photographs of mutts interacting in urban playgrounds (or ‘dog runs’), was initially supposed to be figure studies of Great Danes in motion, bringing to life Crouser’s elegant visions of  “musculature, movement, shapes and glistening coats.” Residing on the sidelines however, Crouser became a voyeur to a far more complex situation—dogs playing wildly with no regard to being watched. Fascinated by their interaction, the photographer shot over several years what would become Dog Run, “some very intense, very goofy images of eyes and tongues and legs and tails flying around.”

Though he has never had a dog himself, he couldn’t help but be drawn on his runs around the Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis to the relatively new phenomenon of the urban dog park; and the sea of dogs that inhabited them. In fact, he often found it rather therapeutic remaining motionless for hours on end whilst the animals around him went wild.

Crouser’s strong aesthetic is far from the saccharine soaked displays we so often see of perfectly groomed golden pups playing with balls in ribbon-threaded baskets. These dogs were shot as they really are, raw in monochrome. Yes, the images are intense, however they are not entirely dark, and are often tinged with humour.

Crouser explains, “I’ve been asked more than once ‘What’s with the darkness? What’s with the intensity?’ I can only say that if photography is a personal expression, then I must be tapping into a darker, more intense, more emotional side with photography than I’m able to otherwise. I don’t think people see me as “dark” in mood or in character, but there is a lot of intensity and heaviness, and even violence in my photography, but also quiet humor. I believe that the most successful of my photographs, and the larger collection of works put together are really a pretty true reflection of myself. I sometimes feel that my more personal work has more in common with painting or rough pottery or certain types of music than it does with much that is out there in the photography world. I don’t expect everyone to see that, it’s just how it feels.”

Crouser continues to hone his “magical” craft, and admits he is constantly learning and improving, publishing his works for others to see and consider, but ultimately embarking on a very personal journey. With his camera now pointed on his next project Mountain Ranch (a series depicting the disappearing world of cattle ranches in the Colorado hills), it’s a certainty his intelligent aesthetic will be thriving for years to come.


All images courtesy of Michael Crouser
michaelcrouser.com
dogrunbook.com

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Art&Culture

ISSUE NINE — BUY NOW

In our Spring issue, there’s much to be in high spirits about. We go behind the scenes of Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, a movie fuelled by dopamine, alpha dogs, and a vast crew of artisans and animators. We hang with a pack of trippy-looking poodles created by artist Susumu Kamijo. We find five mutts who changed history by injecting their human counterparts with a good dose of serotonin. There is plenty of oxytocin going around, too. We celebrate Sulek’s photography of rescued Spanish galgos, Jo Longshurst’s abstract twist on pet portraiture, and Ho Hai Tran’s love of stripes and spots. We travel to Berlin, Toronto, London, and upstate New York to meet creative types whose bonds with their four-legged mates are as heartfelt as they are intoxicating. We ask five foodies to fess up about dog snacks and guilty pleasures that feed body and soul, and we embrace illustrator Apolline Muet’s bear hugs between humans and animals.
All this, and more, inside the covers.

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Art&Culture

Under the cover of darkness

Death and wilderness play a key role in Lorna Evan’s haunting photography.

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Best of breeds

Sipke Visser’s new book lifts the lid on the fascinating world of dog shows.

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