Domestic, Wild, Divine: Artists Look at Animals examines the way that artists have responded to the significant but often enigmatic roles that animals have played in human life. Drawn from VMFA’s entire collection, the exhibition features many perspectives on the subject of the animal—from wild beasts to treasured pets to otherworldly creatures.

The animal as subject has captivated artists for thousands of years. The cave paintings at Lascaux, France, among the oldest known works of art, feature hundreds of depictions of bulls, deer, and horses. Throughout their constant presence in human history, animals’ roles have varied widely, from providers of basic labor and locomotion to important characters in human myths, cultural rituals, and religious traditions.

Artists Look at Animals, drawn from VMFA’s entire collection, features many perspectives on the animal—whether wild beast, treasured pet, or otherworldly creature. Works in a variety of media—painting, sculpture, decorative arts—tell the story of the complex relationships that have been forged between humans and their fellow animals. Artists from prehistory to the present illuminate something of these emotional, spiritual, and physical connections that have flourished.

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