Dogs Playing Poker by C. M. Cooligde

Dogs Playing Poker by C. M. Cooligde
Dogs Playing Poker by C. M. Cooligde

A few weeks ago we introduced you to Louis Wain, a painter who throughout his career varied styles and trends, but he always did so painting cats. Well, today we are going to introduce you to another artist from that same period and also from the United States, but in this case specialized in painting dogs. But yes, in a very peculiar way.


Dogs Playing Poker by C. M. Coolidge

This isCassius Marcellus Coolidge(1844 – 1934), who also signed his worksC. M. Cooligdeor by his more familiar nickname,Cash. We are facing a very peculiar artist. To begin with his origins in a family of Quaker farmers. And then because until he was in his thirties he carried out his work in jobs far removed from the world of art: banking, a pharmacy, a newspaper… And of course he did not receive any artistic training.

However, he had a natural vocation towards drawing, and since he was young he made his own comics. And he always showed enormous imagination in his plots and in his ideas. For example, he became known with his Comic Foregrounds, something that still exists, since it involves making large life-size panels with fictional characters making an oval on their faces, so that the people who see it are the ones who are photographed like that. A surprising idea, and more considering that he created it at the beginning of the 20th century, when the art of photography was somethingincipient.

The fact is that his self-confidence and style led him to be hired by an advertising agency, and in his first job for a cigarette brand, instead of people, he used dogs as models. Thus came his famous 1903 series Dogs Playing Poker. Although he not only painted them playing cards, but also reading or on a pool table, since there are a total of 16 different paintings.

These are paintings that have something naïf and also a lot of surrealism. Even criticism and humor are not lacking in some way. It all depends on the eyes with which you look. A good example is one of the most famous paintings in the A Friend in Distress series. In it we see how one of the dogs, specifically a bulldog, tries to give an ace to his friend, to improve his cards. Is it a sneaky trick? Is this a favor?

The fact is that for a long time the work of Coolidge has not been considered art with capital letters. But the reality is that they are images that have transcended their time and the advertising campaigns for which they were created. They are works with undeniable popularity, which have had his followers and have even been paid tribute to on numerous occasions in other formats of American culture, from movies to books. And as if that were not enough, in recent auctions of works by C. M. Coolidge, his creations have reached astronomical prices.

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