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The lover of horses (and sheep): animal photography as art

‘Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride, friendship without envy, or beauty without vanity?

Here where grace is laced with muscle and strength by gentleness confined.’

These lines from Ronald Duncan’s famous poem could have been written to accompany the work of Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas who has raised to a high art the photographing of animals. She has a particular fascination for working horses and dogs creating heart rending pictures of the moth eaten strays of Palermo, the seen-it-all rescue dogs of New York city and worn out Italian racehorses. Here, she has made an almost unbearably touching study of the horses who pull the caskets of fallen soldiers to their burials in Arlington Cemetery, Virginia. Photographed at night, the horses look all too aware of the sadness of their work.

Another photographer bringing the painterly approach to his work is London based Bart Pajak who has created these wonderfully noble, regency style portraits of sheep. He does turkeys (and people) too but frankly they’re not a patch on the sheep.

There is a great deal of excitment about Ryan McGinley right now and his portraits of naked models interacting with animals are worth seeing. Many of them are fairly unpleasant – turkey neck draped across your crotch or ferret nibbling your buttocks anyone? – so we’ll leave you with one of the more beautiful images which features a donkey. I’m sure Ronald Duncan was referring to donkeys too.

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