John Murphy
Investigations of a Dog (Pictor) 1984–96

Artwork details

Artist
John Murphy born 1945
Title
Investigations of a Dog (Pictor)
Date 1984–96
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 2650 x 1990 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased 1997
Reference
T07323
Not on display

Display caption

The title of this work comes from Franz Kafka's The Investigations of a Dog. It is one of a series of paintings by Murphy which each show a dog drawn in line and depicted beneath a diagram of a constellation. According to Murphy, the dog signifies man as the 'contemplative animal', endeavouring to name and understand the world beyond himself. The constellation, in this case Pictor (meaning easel in Latin), represents our attempts to give human meaning to natural phenomena. However, by painting the dogs in naturalistic poses, walking, sleeping, smelling, Murphy seeks to remind us that our lives are bound to the physical no matter how far we try to conquer our horizons.

August 2004