Monday, March 19, 2012


("Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash", Giacomo Balla, 1912, Buffalo Museum of Art, Buffalo, NY)

My sisters and I hounded our parents about getting a dog for years.

We were relentless.

It took a good long while but eventually Mom and Dad caved in.

I remember the day Dad arrived home with the precious pooch in tow.

My sisters and I were awe struck as we sat on the living room floor staring at our new pet.

We named this red-brown wonder, "Happy," for what I hope are obvious reasons.

Happy stared right back at us.

Who knows what he was thinking but it may have been something like this:

"Jeesh, there's three of them - all females.  And that doesn't count the mom.  I'm gonna be squeezed, pinched, carried and slobbered on to within an inch of my life."

And that's pretty much what happened.

We loved that dachshund.

Happy was your basic dog.


Good tempered.

He liked to sniff things.

Happy was definitely not the fastest canine on earth.

This, of course, was largely due to his short, stubby little legs.

My heart went out to him every time we went on a walk.

His paws were scrambling as fast as they could go on the pavement.

That's why I was totally tickled the day I discovered Giacomo Balla's wonderful painting, "Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash."

As I stood gazing and smiling at Giacomo's peppy puppy, I was instantly reminded of my own beloved Happy.

What has Giacomo given us in his unusual painting?

A low view point, for one thing.

We don't see the whole woman walking the dog.

We see her feet and a few inches of her dress.

Balla is telling us that the human perspective isn't important in this painting.

But we can't miss Doxie!

She's up close and personal, isn't she?

We're really getting a dog's view of the world here.

And that's a nice change-up.

Most art critics agree that Doxie has eight tails.

Not literally, of course.

It simply looks like she has eight tails.

Balla's multi-layered brush strokes are a symphony of frenetic movement.

Words like "flurry" and "blurry" come to mind the second we see this prancing dog.

Balla's beautiful application of paint reminds me of feathery, black Spanish lace.

I see an intricate, delicate patterning of lacy veiling everytime I look at Doxie's whirling paws.

I love Doxie's flip-floppy ears - they are blowing in the breeze as she hurries through space.

Doxie is tethered to her owner by a silver chain that arcs back and forth in rhythmic movement as the walkers continue their promenade.

That silver chain ties not only Balla's walkers together, it also adds drama and interest to the overall composition of his painting.

Every turn of Balla's brush evokes feelings of joyful motion!

Giacomo, born in Turin, Italy, began working in a lithograph print shop at the tender age of nine.

At the age of 20 he decided to study painting at local art academies in Turin.

After marrying Elisa Marcucci in Rome in 1895,  Giacomo worked as an illustrator, caricaturist and portrait painter in that esteemed city.

Later, Balla became a leading member of the Italian avant-garde group, the Futurists.

This art movement focused on creating pictorial depictions of light, movement and speed.

That bit of information brings us back to our speedy Miss Doxie.

She's short in stature.

She's long in body.

But, my stars, can that girl get a move on!

She's inspiring me to get up and move my own creaky bones.

And that's a good thing.

Because I've got some serious hoofing to do in massive art museums in the near future.


There's gonna come a point when my aching "dogs" are gonna win out over the luscious Leonardos, the rapturous Raphaels and the magnificent Monets.

So when that happens, I'm gonna think about Doxie the Dasher the very minute I want to sit on my duff and whine about my aching feet.

Then I'm gonna bounce back up and start spinning my wheels.

Knowing me, I'll probably fall back down onto the gallery bench and promptly pass out.

That will be the signal for me to move on to "Plan B" which looks pretty much like this:

I'll get down on all fours and crawl like a baby through the Louvre's Italian Salon.

Thank heavens, Miss Doxie won't be there to see me!

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