Lean To

William Wegman

William Wegman is an art photographer noted for compositions involving his Weimaraner dogs in various costumes, poses and scenarios. Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, Wegman started drawing at a young age and knew that he wanted to be an artist by the age of 10. He received a BFA in painting at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and his MFA at the University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana in 1967. While his work has received international attention, it was not until he acquired his first Weimaraner dog, who he named Man Ray, that he achieved this success. Man Ray became so popular that the Village Voice named the dog “Man of the Year” in 1982. In creating these photographs, Wegman has the capacity to balance humor with strong formal composition. In these photographs, one has the feeling that the dogs are willing subjects and active participants. In 1979, Wegman was invited for the first time to use the new Polaroid 20 x 24 inch camera along with Chuck Close, Jim Dine, Andy Warhol and others. This rare 5 foot camera produces large format “contact” prints renowned for their color and detail. Red Detachment is an example of his continued work with the Polaroid 20 x 24 camera. Linda Benedict-Jones, Executive Director of the Silver Eye Center for Photography describes the uniqueness of these images: “When most of us think about a photograph, we think of the possibility of having an infinite number of prints. What is so special about these 20 x 24 photographs is that there is only one print. When Polaroid calls them ‘unique’ prints, or ‘one-of-a-kind’ prints, they mean that they are good, but they also mean that there are no others! There is no negative with a Polaroid 20 x 24 print, and so the positive, or the print is the only image that exists.”

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