Biography of William Wegman
William Wegman was a hugely celebrated artist even before he got Man Ray, his famous dog. Now he is renowned for his moving images of his Weimaraners which showcase his clever, subversive humor that parodies the familiar and the everyday. There was a time when he had been fairly resistant to getting a dog, believing that as an artist he was just too busy and “didn’t have time”. But in 1970 Man Ray upended that notion by actually becoming his art.
The dog did this by being immensely curious in William Wegman’s studio processes, and always wanting to be the center of attention. Eventually Wegman began incorporating him into his photography, the results were not “cute but rather eerie.” Ever since his collaboration with Man Ray became William Wegman’s primary focus, capturing him doing mundane things like drinking a glass of milk or receiving a school report card. When Man Ray died in 1982, the Village Voice named him “Man of the Year.”
Born in 1943, Wegman received a B.F.A. in painting from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. By the time he moved to Long Beach, California to teach at the California State College, his work was already beginning to be noticed. He exhibited at the seminal “When Attitudes Become Form”, exhibition in Bern, Switzerland in 1969 and participated in documenta V.
William Wegman has worked in a wide array of mediums from video, painting, drawing and of course photography. His work has been featured on Sesame Street and Saturday Night Live. Artwork by William Wegman can be found in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and MoMA, both in New York, as well as The Centre Pompidou in Paris. He has had numerous solo exhibitions, including a retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, 2006 and at the Smithsonian American Art Museum also in 2006.