All exhibitions

Reigning Cats and Dogs

April 16, 2024
July 13, 2024

Michael Ponce de Leon, Roundabout, Ink on paper. Permanent Collection, the Art Students League of New York.

This exhibition brings together works from the League’s permanent collection that depict our animal friends. Animals bring us insurmountable joy and companionship. They act as our confidants, listening to us in moments of need.


Surveys show that 66% of households in the United States own a pet. That means 86.9 million homes have an animal companion of some kind – be that a puppy or a snake, a gerbil or a goldfish. Humans have been depicting the creatures with whom we share this Earth since the days of cave paintings with the first known depiction of an animal – a warty pig – dating to 45,500 years ago. From then until now, animals have played a large part in art history – including Leonardo da Vinci’s Woman with an Ermine and Marisol’s sculpture of her friend Georgia O’Keeffe and her two chows, among others. Animals serve as constant inspiration. The practice of drawing animals – akin to drawing the human figure – is practiced actively at the League in Umakanth Thumrugoti’s class Drawing Animals. We invite you to look closely at these works from our collection and consider, how do animals make you feel?

This exhibition is curated by Ksenia Nouril, Phd, Gallery Director and Curator, and Esther V. Moerdler, Curatorial Assistant.