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William Wegman

(b. 1943)


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(1943– ).

Photographer, painter, draftsman, sculptor, video artist, and conceptual artist. Although he has ranged freely across media in presenting idiosyncratic, inventive, and laid-back responses to contemporary American experience, he remains best known for slyly hilarious photographs of seemingly self-conscious Weimaraner dogs playing human roles. Punning titles often enhance the works' amiable conceptualism. Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, William George Wegman received a BFA degree from Boston's Massachusetts College of Art in 1965 and two years later an MFA from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. In the late 1960s he abandoned his early minimalist approach to painting and sculpture to concentrate instead on conceptual works, often incorporating photography or the techniques of video art. From the early 1970s, his dog Man Ray provided a willing, inexpensive, and photogenic accomplice. In 1979 Wegman began using large-format Polaroid film to create elegant, highly detailed, one-of-a-kind works of art. Their rarified appearance sharpened the fetching silliness of his canine subject, usually posed with costume and/or accessories. After Man Ray's death in 1982, Fay Ray, and later her children and grandchildren, took his place as actors. Concurrently, in 1972 Wegman began to create spare and generally sardonic drawings, often including texts. Later these became more illustrative and richer, and in 1985 he returned to painting, creating diaphanous fields overlaid with small, personally symbolic images, more recently often built around collaged postcards. After graduate school, Wegman taught in Wisconsin and Long Beach, California, but has made his home in New York since 1972. He also maintains a summer residence on a lake in Maine. He has published numerous collections of dog photographs.

Subjects: Art.


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