The Society of Animal Artists is an organization comprised of members who produce the best animal art in the world. The mission of the Society of Animal Artists is to promote excellence in the portrayal of domesticated and wild animals in art. The upshot of this nexus of talent and mission, is that artworks created by members of the Society of Animal Artists have established new standards of excellence in fine art, and that the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Animal Artists and its traveling exhibition, Art and the Animal, have become the standard by which all others are measured. The Society of Animal Artists has an historical affinity with organizations that grew out of a movement to form associations and clubs dedicated to art in the 19th century. Like the National Academy of Design and other such organizations, the Society of Animal Artists is mandated by its bylaws to organize annual exhibitions to ensure new, strong and fresh artwork and afford its members with ample display opportunities. It is also worth noting that the Society of Animal Artists was founded in response to an exhibition entitled Animals in the Bronx Zoo, held at Burr Galleries in New York, because this established an historical affinity with the conservation movement, which various members have supported ever since, not only through the ecological message of their artwork but also through generous contributions and sales.
History of the Society of Animal Artists
FOUNDING & EARLY YEARS: In the 1950s, individuals from the New York metropolitan area who liked to meet and paint at the Bronx Zoo together staged "Animals in the Bronx Zoo" at the Burr Gallery sponsored by the New York Zoological Society. Patricia Allen Bott and Guido Borghi were inspired to form the organization after an enthusiastic reception to this exhibition. The fledgling Society soon became a member of the renowned Salmagundi Club, and established an office in their building at 47 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. Early Exhibitions were held in various galleries such as Sportsman’s Edge, Grand Central Art Galleries and the Alder Gallery (All in New York City).
In addition to Bott and Borghi, early members included: Elizabeth Rungius Felda [Sister of Carl Rungius], Paul Bransom, John Clymer, Gifford Cochran, Brenda Frey, Anna Hyatt Huntington, Gertude K. Lathrop, Robert Lougheed, Ugo Mochi, Clement Weisbecker and Walter Wilwerding.
The SAA has hosted annual exhibitions since 1960 with the exhibition first being named "Art and the Animal" in 1988. The first museum venue was the Academy of Sciences in Philadelphia in 1981. In 1988 the Society recruited David J. Wagner to create and manage tours of artworks selected from annual exhibitions and to secure hosts for its annual exhibitions. SAA exhibitions have been displayed throughout the United States, with approximately 70% of hosting venues having been art museums or general museums that have included art as an integral dimension of their core mission. Over the years, the SAA’s work has been on display at more than 100 different institutions across the United States—and once in Canada in 1995 at the Old Algonquin Museum, Algonquin Park, Ontario.