William Wegman American, 1943-
William Wegman (born Holyoke, Massachusetts) wears many hats: artist, director, clown, cultural critic. He is, at heart, a conceptualist, a photographer who began as a painter and who retains a surrealist's sense of irony. He moves easily among photography, video, painting, drawing, and printmaking, incorporating as few or as many techniques from each medium as needed.
Wegman's most faithful models have been his Weimaraner dogs, Man Ray and Fay Ray, and the latter's many offspring. Dressing the dogs in various costumes, then situating them with artifacts extracted from consumer culture, Wegman makes sarcastic, often hilariously goofy commentary on contemporary American society.
Educated at the Massachusetts College of Art (B.F.A., 1965) and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (M.F.A., 1967), Wegman has achieved worldwide recognition through his numerous publications and exhibitions. In 1990 the Kunstmuseum in Lucerne organized an extensive survey of Wegman's paintings, drawings, photographs, and videotapes that traveled throughout Europe and the United States to venues that included the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He has received fellowships from the John Simon Memorial Guggenheim Foundation (1975, 1986) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1975-77, 1982), and a New York Creative Artists Public Service Grant (1979). Wegman lives in New York. A.W.