William Wegman

William Wegman, born in 1943 in Holyoke, Massachusetts, is an artist renowned for his diverse and influential body of work encompassing painting, drawing, photography, and video. Wegman received his B.F.A. in painting from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1965 and an M.F.A. in painting from the University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana in 1967. This strong academic foundation paved the way for a career that would see him become a significant figure in contemporary art.

From 1968 to 1970, Wegman taught at the University of Wisconsin before moving to Southern California, where he taught at California State College, Long Beach for a year. It was during his time in Long Beach that Wegman acquired a Weimaraner named Man Ray. This marked the beginning of a unique collaboration that would become central to his work. Man Ray’s deadpan presence became a beloved feature in Wegman’s photographs and videos, garnering widespread recognition.

By the early 1970s, Wegman’s work was being exhibited internationally. He held solo shows with prestigious galleries such as Sonnabend Gallery in Paris and New York, Situation Gallery in London, and Konrad Fisher Gallery in Dusseldorf. His work was also featured in seminal exhibitions like “When Attitudes Become Form” at the Kunsthalle Bern in 1969 and “Documenta V” in Kassel in 1972. His contributions to the art world were regularly highlighted in influential publications like Interfunktionen, Artforum, and Avalanche magazines.

After the death of Man Ray in 1982, who was posthumously named “Man of the Year” by the Village Voice, Wegman began another collaboration with a new dog, Fay Ray, in 1986. Utilizing the Polaroid 20 x 24 camera, Wegman expanded his creative repertoire. The birth of Fay’s litter in 1989 further enriched his work, leading to a series of children’s books inspired by their various acting abilities, including “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “ABC,” “Mother Goose,” “Farm Days,” “My Town,” “Surprise Party,” and “Chip Wants a Dog.”

Wegman has also published several notable books for adults such as “Man’s Best Friend,” “Fashion Photographs,” “William Wegman 20 x 24,” the New York Times Bestseller “Puppies,” “Fay,” “William Wegman: Paintings,” “Being Human,” and “William Wegman: Writing by Artist,” edited by Andrew Lampert.

In addition to his work in photography and publishing, Wegman has created film and video pieces for “Saturday Night Live” and Nickelodeon. His video segments for “Sesame Street” have been a regular feature since 1989. His film “The Hardly Boys” was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 1995. Wegman has also been commissioned for various projects, including a fashion campaign for Acne, banners for the Metropolitan Opera, and covers for publications like The New Yorker, Wallpaper, and French Vogue.

Wegman’s appearances on popular television programs such as “The Tonight Show” with both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno, “The David Letterman Show,” and “The Colbert Report” have further cemented his status as a cultural icon.

Numerous retrospectives of Wegman’s work have toured major institutions worldwide, including “Wegman’s World” at the Walker Art Center in 1981, “William Wegman: Paintings, Drawings, Photographs, Videotapes” which opened at the Kunstmuseum in Lucerne in 1990, “Funney/Strange” which opened at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2006, and “Hello Nature” which opened at the Bowdoin Museum of Art in 2012. Recent exhibitions include “Before/On/After: William Wegman and California Conceptualism” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and “Being Human,” a comprehensive survey of over thirty years of Wegman’s photographic work.

Currently, William Wegman resides in New York and Maine, where he continues to engage in painting, drawing, videography, and photography, often featuring his current dog, Flo. His innovative and interdisciplinary approach to art continues to inspire and influence the contemporary art scene.

Reader, 1999

Untitled, 1999