Animal Art

09.13.132:26 PM ET

Live Bear Is World's Biggest Paintbrush

The Daily Pic: Michael Gunzberger gets sleeping beasts to make pictures of themselves.

I recently saw this pelt-of-a-print by Swiss artist Michael Günzburger at Winkleman Gallery in Chelsea. Günzburger tells me that it was made by taking a large and live brown bear, already doped for a medical procedure, and manhandling him onto the lithographic plates for this life-size image. (Question: Is it a self-portrait by the bear, or a bear-portrait by the human?) Printmakers have often tried to take direct impressions of objects, usually as monotypes or soft-ground etchings, but this is my first encounter with a litho done from a living, biting beast. There's something poignant about the similarity between the bear stretched out here as an art supply – almost a giant paint brush – and our frequent encounters with such bears stretched out as pelts. In a way, the print emphasizes the pelt-like nature of all images, as they flatten out the world and hand it over to us. All us subjects are just artists' road-kill.

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