Alex Sax began Menagerie Recovery, a historical fiction project featuring mixed media and bronze animal sculptures in 1997. Inspired by the tradition of the traveling menagerie – the touring of collections of exotic animals throughout Europe and the United States from the 17th to early 20th centuries- each of Sax’s menageries are connected to a specific historical figure, with the animals representing aspects of that person’s accomplishments and significance. Presented as recently recovered rare and endangered species, the animals are remnants of the bygone era that predated the modern zoological garden. They are small and intimate, based more on memory than on observation, and possess a presence that is at times almost human.
Paintings, prints, an artist book, and textual histories document both the animals’ imaginary worlds and their recent recovery.