Behind the Scenes at the DAM

Nick Cave Inspires DAM Staff to Share Pet "Rescues"

Note: Dog rescue organizations have designated October as National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. In honor of that, and to bid farewell to Nick Cave's Rescues, some of us on the Denver Art Museum staff share our rescue pets (cats included).

About a year ago, Nick Cave happened upon a life-sized, white, ceramic poodle and a regally seated Doberman in some of his regular flea-market excursions. It became clear to Cave that these dogs would become a central motif for the sculptures he would eventually call Rescues.

The artist began drawing connections between these flea-market canines and representations of dogs in art history and the role they play in hip-hop culture. The artist also a saw a thread linking the act of rescuing dogs at animal shelters with his own aesthetic drive to "rescue" and repurpose once forgotten, discarded objects into something wholly new and unexpected.

In the DAM’s recent Q & A session with Nick Cave, the artist shared that, if any of his flea-market Rescues could talk, he imagines they would say, “I matter." We took a cue from this simple, yet powerful, statement and asked the Denver Art Museum staff to send in pictures of their own rescued pets. The only parameter we set was that the animals needed to be posed on a piece of furniture. The response was overwhelming, and because it was impossible to choose only one among the numerous "glamour shots" submitted of each pet, we've included "outtakes" at the end of the slide show. We hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed taking them.

In addition, our press office received a wonderfully unexpected email from a family who was so inspired by Nick Cave's exhibition, and the Rescues in particular, that they constructed their own "Rescue" made out of found objects. Check out Frank DeCew's and Mathilde Von Thun's (both 12-years-old) amazing creation, complete with rescue dogs Oscar and Jake.

Renée B. Miller is the curatorial assistant in the modern and contemporary department. Renée has been at the DAM since 2008. She recommends that visitors don’t miss Modern Masters: 20th Century Icons from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on level 2 of the Hamilton Building.