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It's a Dog's Life: Photographs by William Wegman from the Polaroid Collection

October 11, 2008 - January 4, 2009


It's a Dog's Life: Photographs by William Wegman from the Polaroid Collection opens to the public on October 11, 2008, and remains on view through January 4, 2009, at the Morris Museum of Art. The Morris Museum is the only venue in the state to host Wegman's Polaroid Collection exhibition, which includes twenty-nine photographs by one of the art world's best-known photographers.  (right: William Wegman, Stud 2000, 1990, Polaroid 20x24 Polacolor film. © William Wegman, Courtesy the Polaroid Collections)

The prints on view feature a series of compositions involving Wegman's now-famous pet Weimaraner, Fay Ray, successor to his original dog of the same breed, Man Ray, in a variety of poses and costumes. After Fay's death in 1995, her offspring became his subjects and muses.

"Wegman composes his photographs very carefully, giving extraordinary attention to the pose and lighting of his subject," commented Jay Williams, curator of the Morris Museum of Art.

"Some of his Polaroid images continue Wegman's penchant for dressing his subject in zany costumes and disguises, while others appear to be serious portraits-studies of his dog's physical form that become studies in abstraction."

Wegman is one of several artists who have completed special projects using Polaroid's amazing large-format instant camera, which weighs 235 pounds. Polaroid created it to make large-format instant photography available for a wide spectrum of uses, from getting close-up magnified views of Raphael's Transfiguration for the Vatican Museum to taking color portraits of President Clinton at the White House. The photographs in the exhibition are typical of those produced using this special camera and measure 20 x 24 inches. 


Artist Biography

Born in 1943, William Wegman received a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston in 1965, and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1967.

Numerous retrospective exhibitions of Wegman's work have been organized, among them Wegman's World, which opened at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1981 and toured the United States, and William Wegman: Paintings, Drawings, Photographs, Videotapes, which opened at the Kunstmuseum in Lucerne in 1990 and traveled to venues across Europe and the United States including the Pompidou Center in Paris and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. More recent exhibitions have been mounted in Sweden, Japan, Korea, and Spain. Funney/Strange opened at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2006, accompanied by a catalogue that was published by Yale University Press.

Wegman's work is represented in the permanent collections of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum; the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., to cite just a few.William Wegman currently resides in New York and Maine where he continues to take photographs and make drawings, paintings, and videos.


(above:  (right: William Wegman, Rolleramer, 1987, Polaroid 20x24 Polacolor film. © William Wegman, Courtesy the Polaroid Collections)

Related Programming 

Friday, October 10, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
It's a Dog's LifeParty. Celebrate the opening of William Wegman's exhibition during a lively evening of heavy hors dÅåoeuvres, short-film screenings, and hands-on art activities. Members, free; nonmembers, Fee.  
Sunday, November 2, 2:00 p.m.
Artrageous! Family Sunday: Wild about Wegman.Enjoy Wegman's movies Alphabet Soup and Fay's Twelve Days of Christmas, starring the artist's beloved Weimaraners, and create your own sun prints. Free.  
Saturday, November 8, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Adult Artist Workshop: Polaroid Transfers.Instructor Rosanne Stutts leads participants through the processes of emulsion and image transfers, using the techniques to create a final piece. Fee, includes all supplies.
Sunday, November 16, 1:00-5:00 p.m.
Teen Artist Workshop: Polaroid Transfers.Instructor Rosanne Stutts leads students through the processes of emulsion and image transfers. Fee.

Editor's note: RL readers may also enjoy:


and this DVD:

William Wegman: Selected Video Works 1970-78; Dog Baseball, 1986: 25 minutes 1994. "A collection of Wegman's best-known short, conceptual video works (1970-86) that span from the whimsical to the absurd. Many of these vignettes star his Weimaraner dogs, Man Ray, Fay Ray, and her offspring." Studio: Microcinema. DVD Release Date: March 10, 2006 Title Note from Toqwer Video: "The constantly evolving artist William Wegman, best known for his absurdist dog portraits, has been making experimental short films and videos throughout his career. This definitive collection, compiled by the artist himself in collaboration with ARTPIX, features previously unavailable and newly restored works, many of which Wegman executed in the context of the just-burgeoning medium of video art. Inventive, influential, and often entertaining, the collection includes "Milk/Floor," "Dog Duet," and "Stomach Song.""


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