William Wegman


William Wegman


Bat Bite

Photolithograph, ed. 2/40

24 x 20 inches
Signed Lower Right

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The following information is from a New York Times review by Robert Smith of a 2006 Wegman retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum.

Smith wrote: "So let this be said: dogs or no dogs, Mr. Wegman is one of the most important artists to emerge from the heady experiments of the 1970s." The works in the exhibit "anoint him as the most accessible and, in his own way, richly human of all Conceptual artists. . . For most of his career---longer that that of most artists his age---Mr. Wegman, 62, has fearlessly tolerated looking silly, consequential or sentimental while making his art with whatever, or whoever, happened to be handy, starting with himself."

Among Wegman's influences are Bob and Ray, the radio comedians; Surrealists such as Man Ray; and commercial television with its ads for appliances, cars, etc.

Wegman was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts and showed early art talent. He graduated from the University of Illinois and then was a teacher for three years at the University of Wisconsin. At that time, his specialty was installation art. Wanting to pursue his own studio projects, especially photography and video, he quit teaching, and in 1970 moved to Los Angeles. There he associated with Ed Burscha, Bruce Nauman and John Baldassari "who were not without wit themselves."

Wegman also made a name for himself by injecting humor into video art, which included himself posing in his underpants and carrying a purse, posing as a door-to-door salesman, and crawling on all fours with milk dribbling out of his mouth. His best-known videos became those he did with Man Ray, who appeared in the milk crawling scene as the replacement for an exiting Wegman, and who finally hits his nose with a thud on the camera, which causes everything to go blank. "This video fulfuills the first rule of classic humor: it is funny every time you see it." Wegman also did art photography with Man Ray, who died in 1982.

Two years earlier, Wegman began his dog subjects, first taking large color Polaroid shots in a variety of poses of his aging dog, a Weimaraner. This was the beginning of what became his signature work.