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William Wegman

Date of birth : 1942-02-12
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Holyoke, Massachusetts, United States
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2010-07-19

William Wegman, also known as: William George Wegman, born February 12, 1942 in Holyoke, Massachusetts, United States is an American photographer.

"I like to subvert the familiar, but not to put it down, or make fun of it." Wegman thus adequately described the intent and nuance of his photographs, video and films, and unpretentious graphic art; that is, until the early 1980s and the death of Man Ray, his 80 pound Weimaraner companion, with whom he had made his domestic vaudeville and other spoof images. The dog had in a sense become Wegman's persona and allowed him the fragile, deliberately ephemeral attitude in a wide spectrum of theme. Although Wegman's recent works are still characterized by such burlesque fun (Wegman is said to have genuine disdain for "art"), there is now a more Surreal and emblematic quality in the elegantly produced Polaroid form which has come to distinguish his work.

Wegman states that he became annoyed with the utterly subjective nuance of modernity, and so was then led to jokes through the need to have his communication "complete itself." His primary metaphor formed around the rational absurdity of the joke structure; and perhaps his major role is to have brought into "high" art the casual fun of public entertainment. (His critics have often chided him in just this regard--his "lightness" of tone.) And so there came about a long-standing attack upon artistic sincerity itself through Wegman's use of autobiographic subject matter, an improvisational spontaneity, and a humor often centered about the nature of our realityperception. Prevalent also throughout his work has been the theme of incapacity and the thwartedness of failure. No doubt vital to his evolution has been his continuing acquaintance with his one-time studiomate John Baldessari, and as well the appearance in 1963 at the Pasadena Museum of Art, of the first large exhibition of the works of Marcel Duchamp.

With the present decade, Wegman has used a large format Polaroid image which perhaps contradicts the self-effacing anti-mastery so important to his statement. The easy accessibility of his earlier work ("I didn't want them to be compared to paintings, and get involved in scale, and size, and 'wall' power") has thus been lost. The recent work often exudes a commercialized air through the long use of such tableaux like imagery in the advertising world. Wegman has, for example, focused upon a female body builder as model in order to explore sexual role cliches; and in another lengthy exploration, has used a small child to present the poignancy and strangeness of the child/adult interface.

Wegman (and dogs) have become a small-scale art machine within the last decade. He has been said to be, just after Warhol, the most recognizable U.S. artist. Wegman's own, and many other web-sites, promulgate the varied products of the Wegman studios. As well as the single and serial photo images (digital printing has begun to appear among his continuing use of the large-scale Polaroid process),there have been yearly book publications which feature the dogs at play, with no lessened wit, in the worlds of literature and ordinary life.

In the latter half of the 1990s Wegman produced a prodigious number of children's books, among them works for pre-schoolers and elementary school students. For all ages Wegman has produced the deeply admired Wegman Puppies (1997), and several other works. The dogs have logically enough also been brought into the perennial array of family life needs: the baby book, the address book, the photo-album, etc. Although not generally an aspect of Wegman's larger celebrity, many of these works were enhanced by the inclusion of his own drawings.

All the while, Wegman has continued to appear in the traditional and more prestigious realm of museums and art galleries. While such shows, held throughout the 1990s, did hold twice-perused themes such as the dogs before 19th century photographic backdrops and the dogs at play before mid-20th century circus sideshow banners and advertisements, there was as well a striking departure. Not at all hiding his familiar troupe, Wegman, perhaps with real nostaglia for a modernism he usually held at arm's length, has used the dogs to create both formal abstracted compositional arrangements and subtle landscape-like forms. As if to increase their abstracted elegance, many of these images were in multi-panel formats.


PERSONAL INFORMATION

Nationality: American. Born: Holyoke, Massachusetts, 12 February 1942. Education: Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, B.F.A. 1965; University of Illinois, Urbana, 1965-67, M.F.A. 1967. Family: Married to Gayle Wegman; son: Man Ray. Career: Artist and freelance photographer, California and New York. Instructor, University of Wisconsin at Wausau, 1967, and at Waukesha, 1968-69; assistant professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1969-70; lecturer, 1970-71, and visiting artist, 1978, California State University at Long Beach. Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship, 1975; National Endowment for the Arts Grant, 1975-77, 1982; Creative Artists Public Service Grant, 1979. Agent: Holly Solomon Gallery, 724 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10019. Address: 27 Thames Street, New York, New York 10004, U.S.A.

WORKS
* Individual Exhibitions:


* 1971: Galerie Sonnabend, Paris
* Pomona College, California
* 1972: Sonnabend Gallery, New York
* Galerie Ernst, Hannover
* Situation, London
* Galerie Konrad Fischer, Dusseldorf
* Courtney Sale Gallery, Dallas
* 1973: Galerie Sonnabend, Paris
* Texas Gallery, Houston
* Los Angeles County Museum of Art
* Francoise Lambert and Claire Copley Gallery, Los Angeles
* 1974: Modern Art Agency, Naples
* Galerie D, Brussels
* Galeria Toselli, Milan
* 112 Green Street Gallery, New York
* Texas Gallery, Houston
* 1975: Mayor Gallery, London
* Galleria Alessandra Castelli, Milan
* Gallerie Konrad Fischer, Dusseldorf
* 1976: The Kitchen, New York
* 1977: Sonnabend Gallery, New York
* Bruno Soletti Gallery, Milan
* 1978: Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Los Angeles
* Robert Cumming/William Wegman, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
* 1979: Holly Solomon Gallery, New York
* Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol
* Galerie Konrad Fischer, Dusseldorf
* Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles
* William Wegman: Retrospective, Fine Arts Galleries, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
* 1980: William Wegman: Selected Works 1970-1979, University of Colorado Art Galleries, Boulder (travelled to the Aspen Center for Visual Arts, Colorado)
* 1981: Clarence Kennedy Gallery, Cambridge, Massachusetts (with William Van Dyke and Olivia Parker)
* 1982: Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
* Nancy Drysdale Gallery, Washington, D.C.
* James Corcoran Gallery, Los Angeles
* Wegman's World, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
* The Fort Worth Art Museum, Texas
* De Cordova & Dana Museum & Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts
* The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
* Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
* Newport Harbor Museum, Newport Beach, California
* 1983: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
* 12 Duke Street Gallery, London
* Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
* Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
* Local Boy Makes Good, Fine Arts Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
* 1984: Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan
* University of Miami, Coral Gables
* 1985: Albright College, Reading, Pennsylvania
* 1986: Daniel Wolf Gallery, New York
* Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland
* 1987: Nancy Drysdale Gallery, Washington, D.C.
* 1988: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
* Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
* The Stuart Collection, University of San Diego, La Jolla, California
* Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York
* San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
* 1990: Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
* James Corcoran Gallery, Los Angeles
* Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York
* Linda Cathcart Gallery, Los Angeles
* The History of Travel, Taft Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio
* Butler Institute, Youngstown, Ohio
* Sperone Westwater Gallery, New York
* William Wegman: Paintings, Drawings, Photographs, Videotapes, Kunstsmuseum, Lucerne (traveled to ICA, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Frankfurt Kunstverein; Pompidou Center, Paris; ICA, Boston; Ringling Museum, Sarasota; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston)
* 1991: Neuberger Museum, State University of New York, Purchase
* William Wegman: Photographic works 1969-76, Fonds Regional d'Art Contemporain du Limoges, Limousin, Limoges, France
* 1992: Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
* Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York
* Linda Cathcart Gallery, Los Angeles
* William Wegman: Foto, Film, Zeichnungen, Galerie Andreas Binder, Munich
* William Wegman: Field Guide to North American (and other regions), Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, La Jolla, California
* 1993: Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
* William Wegman's Cinderella, Museum of Modern Art, New York
* William Wegman, Museo de Monterrey, Mexico
* William Wegman: Les Contes de Fay, Galerie Durand-Dessert, Paris
* Fay's Fairy Tales: William Wegman's "Cinderella" and "Little Red Riding Hood," Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland (traveled to Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Columbus Museum of Art; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; Ansel Adams Center for Photography, San Francisco; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego)
* 1994: Nancy Drysdale Gallery, Washington, D.C.
* Linda Cathcart Gallery, Los Angeles
* Lisa Sette Gallery, Phoenix, Arizona
* Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, Washington
* Edition Julie Sylvester
* 1995: A William Wegman Primer: Shapes, Numbers and Alphabet, George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, New York
* William Wegman: Photographs, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen
* Weimar den Weimaranern, ACC Galerie Weimar
* William Wegman: Recent Work, Gerald Peters Gallery, Dallas
* William Wegman, PaceWildenstein, Los Angeles
* William Wegman: Altered Photographs, PaceWildensteinMacGill, New York

* Selected Group Exhibitions:

* 1969: Places and Process, Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta
* 1971: Prospect '71, Dusseldorf
* 1973: Whitney Annual, Whitney Museum, New York
* 1978: 23 Photographers, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
* 1979: The Altered Photograph, Project Studio 1, Long Island City, New York
* 1981: Drawing Distinction: American Drawings in the Seventies, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (traveled to Kunsthalle, Basel, Switzerland; Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich; Wilhem-Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen, Germany)
* 1982: Biennale, Venice
* 1983: Images Fabriques, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
* 1984: Content: A Contemporary Focus 1974-1984, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.
* 1989: Image World, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
* Painting Beyond the Death of Painting, USSR Artists Union, Moscow
* Contemporary Art from New York, Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan
* Now, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
* 1990: Photography Until Now, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
* Word as Image: American Art 1960-1990, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
* Points of Departure: Origins in Video, The Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
* 1991: 4e Semaine Internationale de Video, Geneva
* 1992: Greg Colson, Guillermo Kuitca, William Wegman, Westwater, New York
* 1993: Action/Performance and the Photograph, Turner/Krull Galleries, Los Angeles
* 1994: Animal Farm, James Corcoran Gallery, Santa Monica, California
* 1995: Reconsidering the Object of Art: 1965-1975, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
* Mainely Wegmans, Colby College Art Museum, Waterville, Maine

* Collections:

* Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo
* The Brooklyn Museum, New York
* Carnegie Institute, Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
* F.R.A.C. Limousin, Limoges, France
* The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
* Los Angeles County Museum of Art
* Minneapolis Institute of Art
* Museum of Fine Art, Houston
* The Museum of Modern Art, New York
* De Menil Collection, Houston
* Newport Harbor Museum, California
* Sammlung Ludwig, Aachen
* San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
* Saint Louis Museum of Modern Art
* Stuart Collection, Univ. of California, San Diego
* Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
* Whitney Museum of American Art, New York


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