Cover image for William Wegman polaroids
William Wegman polaroids
Wegman, William.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Harry N. Abrams, [2002]

Physical Description:
230 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 34 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TR729.D6 W435 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

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For almost 25 years, William Wegman has been producing photographs with the 20 x 24 Polaroid camera. This body of work began in 1979, when Wegman - already well known in the art world for his wry video and conceptual photographic work - was invited by Polaroid to try out this unusual camera. When Wegman and his dog, Man Ray, travelled to Boston to use the camera for the first time, a remarkable collaboration was launched. After Man Ray died in 1982, Wegman continued his exploration of the medium with non-canine subjects. In the late 1980s, he began to work with the dog Fay Ray and an expanding universe of her progeny.

Author Notes

William Wegman was born in 1943 in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He received a B.F.A. in painting from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1965. In 1967, He received an M.F.A. in painting and printmaking at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Wegman taught painting at various universities, but later became interested in photography and video.

Wegman may be best-known for his photography involving his Weimaraner dogs in various poses and costumes. His work can be seen in museums throughout Europe and the United States, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Wegman was on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson Show in 1992, and his dogs have had appearances on Saturday Night Live and Sesame Street.

Wegman lives in New York and Maine.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Wegman's witty photographs of his weimaraner, Man Ray, were already the meat-and-potatoes of his artwork when he was called to check out an experimental Polaroid camera--and bring the dog along. Initially dubious about the 20-by-24-inch color images the behemoth produced, Wegman came to love it and made it the primary tool for his pictures of Man Ray and Man's successors, Fay Ray and members of two generations of her offspring, for the succeeding 24 years. He presents this splendid album of 230 of those pictures--some in black and white, thanks to a special film Polaroid eventually developed--as a summation of his long use of the camera, which is getting rickety (two of the five cameras made are hors de combat). The exceptionally detailed images the camera allows have been the primary reason Wegman has preferred it, and this volume's 10 1/2 -by-13-inch pages (about one-third the size of the originals) afford the best book experience ever of the exquisite results he got out of the ungainly thing. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Although Wegman's artistic output includes photography and video work that doesn't feature canines, "by the mid-Seventies," he wryly notes, "I had become the guy with the dog." The dog was Man Ray, a weimaraner with a movie star's instinct for the spotlight. Using a 1978 20x24 Polaroid camera, Wegman captured his beloved dog on film; for more than 20 years now, Wegman has continued to experiment with the camera, immortalizing his next weimaraner, Fay Ray, and a long line of her progeny. Though the collection contains a few portraits of people, next to the expressive and enigmatic canine tableaux, Wegman's human compositions are pale and unengaging-less human, in fact, than the dog photographs. In Rouge (1982), one of the last portraits of Man Ray, the ailing dog's eyes shine with wisdom and melancholy. In contrast, 1982's Eau II, a portrait of a glammed-up woman with a bloody nose and a Chanel bottle, seems cold and dated (or in the vein of a knock-off Cindy Sherman). It is when Wegman, refraining from indulging his latter-day fascination with prop and costume anthropomorphism, focuses on the dogs themselves-whether on their musculature, their sleek taupe coats or the graceful incline of their brows-that his photographs take on a life of their own and become truly beautiful. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

There's no shortage of opportunities to see photographer Wegman's work, with numerous books currently in print, together with a minor industry producing notecards, calendars, and T-shirts; his dog photographs may be some of the best-known images of any contemporary artist. This title showcases Wegman's efforts with the Polaroid 20 24 camera, although it is an open question as to whether the book's concept merits the publication of yet another Wegman title. Still, it is beautifully produced, with many color illustrations (almost all of his pet Weimaraners), foldouts, and a lively, easygoing text by Wegman, who studied art in the early 1970s when Conceptualism was at its most robust. His style developed out of the philosophical, questing strategies employed by Conceptual artists, and, while one can find echoes of those strategies here, absent is the searching, intellectual honesty that characterizes the best Conceptual art. Wegman's work is undeniably charming, often amusing, and occasionally quite moving. Given the exposure he has, however, libraries with limited budgets might consider purchasing books about lesser-known contemporary artists influenced by Conceptualism or one of several titles currently in print discussing the achievements of Conceptual art. For collections already possessing large holdings in art and photography.-Michael Dashkin, PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.