The Compassionate Eye: Birds and Beasts from the American Museum’s Print Collection
10 March – 1 July 2012
The Compassionate Eye, an exhibition of prints by American artists depicting the sympathetic relationship between man and beast, showcased pieces from a collection amassed by Museum founder, Dr Dallas Pratt. Unlike many of his medical contemporaries, Dr Pratt was morally troubled by vivisection and wrote the pioneering studies Painful Experiments on Animals (1976) and Alternatives to Pain in Experiments on Animals (1980). For his work promoting animal rights, Dr Pratt received the prestigious Animal Welfare Institute’s Albert Schweitzer Award in 1981. His print menagerie, which he donated to the Museum, was another way in which he hoped to win over public opinion to the cause of animal rights. By seeing the human interactions with birds and beasts in these artworks, Dr Pratt hoped viewers would acquire a more compassionate eye.
The comprehensive collection demonstrates many print-making techniques such as etching, lithography and serigraphy as well as lino and wood cuts. The artists represented include James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Frederick Stuart Church (1842-1924), Rockwell Kent (1882-1971), Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), Grant Wood (1892-1942), Diana Thorne (b.1895), Lynd Kendall Ward (1905-1985), Jackson Lee Nesbitt (1913-2008), William Wind McKim (1916-1995) and Leonard Baskin (1922-2000).
You can see our exhibition video here: