Cones For a Walk in Looneyland
Posted on December 13 2022
Dudley Huppler, Muscoda - Spring, 1950, 14 x 20 in.
I can’t say that I have ever seen a cone-bird out for a walk in the wild. I am no art historian, so I lack a little of the vernacular, but what I have learned is that when a bird shaped like a cone can go for a walk that is magical surrealism for you! When we can take things from nature and give them a fantastical twist it changes our interpretation of how we see the world. Or, in this case, how Dudley saw the world.
Dudley created this piece of artwork in the spring of 1950 in his hometown of Muscoda, Wisconsin. A place where the cows outnumbered the humans and the Wisconsin River bordered the town on one side. He would have been thirty-three years old and 7 years into his craft.
In May of that same year, Vogue did a two-page spread of Dudley. Similarly, Art Digest, ART News, and Flair had stories about Dudley in their publications. At the same time, he did a solo show at Edwin Hewitt gallery in New York. For a small town kid, it appeared that he had made it. At the time, he didn’t know that he would meet Andy Warhol four years later and join the table at his coloring parties.
I was first introduced to Dudley’s artwork nine years ago when I first met my now husband. It was love at first sight. The man or the artwork, you might ask. And I would simply reply, yes. He had a drawing of a cat playing with a ball of yarn. The cat was so alive that when I zoomed in I couldn’t believe that it was created by a series of ink dots. Ink is a very unforgiving medium that might scare away some artists. Dudley embraced the challenge and for decades dotted millions and millions of times.