From the earliest-known cave paintings to modern-day installations, animals have long featured in art. This sampling from the New-York Historical Society paintings collection offers a glimpse into the rich history of animal symbolism in American art. The squirrels, bears, and bulls pictured here are more than squirrels, bears, and bulls. They embody social values, emblematize rural life, and satirize human behavior. As such, they help to illuminate complex questions about identity, the future of the nation, and the perils of unchecked impulse.
Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Evelyn & Seymour Neuman Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.