The photographer has a new book and a new exhibit at New York’s Sperone Westwater
William Wegman has spent 50 years photographing his dogs, and now, many shots from his life’s work — along with never before published photos — are being put into book form. William Wegman: Being Human is a look at his deeply felt, often funny, and occasionally surreal photos of his Weimaraners.
Wegman’s first video Milk/Floor was of his first dog, Man Ray, who (as you might have inferred from the title) lapped up milk on camera. The photographer has owned nine other dogs since then, but Man Ray was the archetype. Vogue described the dog as “a steel-colored Weimaraner with Brancusi curves and soft eyes and a certain mutability in front of the camera.” His two current muses are Flo and Topper who live with Wegman in Maine when they’re not posing for portraits in his New York studio.
The release of the book also coincides with the opening of the Polaroid exhibition “William Wegman: Dressed and Undressed” at the Sperone Westwater gallery in New York. Wegman’s resume ranges from standard art world accomplishments to unexpected pop culture appearances. He has had two Guggenheim fellowships and one from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has also been on Sesame Street, Saturday Night Live, and David Letterman’s Late Night.
Starting out as part of the 1970s West Coast art collective of Bruce Nauman, John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha, Wegman was teaching at California State University in Long Beach when he first acquired Man Ray, and it was in the ‘70s when he began to experiment with creating video shorts of his dogs.
Vogue’s Alessandra Codinha asked Wegman what surprised him most about going through old film prior to his Sperone Westwater exhibition.
“That I really haven’t really thought of anything new, ever,” he said. But in the press materials for his exhibition, Wegman reflected a bit more gently. “I could see all my beloved dogs, from Candy and Bobbin to Batty and Fay, grow younger and younger and younger; the images went back to a time before they existed, back to Man Ray, where it all began.”