Charlotte Dumas

Vlaardingen NL 1977, lives/works Amsterdam and New York

Animals are a well-liked subject in our visual culture, but in the context of visual art they are hardly considered a serious theme. In defiance of this supposed triviality, Charlotte Dumas has made dogs, horses, tigers and wolves the subject of her photography since graduating from the Rietveld Academie in 2000.

Characteristic of her approach is the unbiased concern with which she portrays her subject. The sizes of the photographs are substantial, yet not so large that intimacy is lost. The animals are placed centrally and monumentally on the image surface, in poses that precede or follow the action. We see a full focus on their stance, on the softness and the nuances of color in their coats or the relief of veins on glistening skin. These are quiet images, which seem to elude the momentary quality of the ‘here and now’ due to their setting and incidence light.

Dumas takes her inspiration more from painting than from photography. Delacroix and Géricault are the shining examples for her. She is fascinated by the way in which these artists have portrayed horses – heroically and tragically, as passionate and dedicated creatures. Like these painters, Dumas is primarily interested in the eloquence of the image. In addition to the cropping and the pose, she employs light as a means of achieving this in her photographs.