William Wegman (photographer)

"Fay Ray" redirects here. For the actress, see Fay Wray. For the singer, see Fayray.
William Wegman

February, 2006
Born (1943-12-02) December 2, 1943
Holyoke, Massachusetts,
United States
Nationality American
Education Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from Massachusetts College of Art and Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from University of Illinois in 1967
Known for Video and photo
Notable work La Jolla Vista View
Dog Duet
Spouse(s) Christine Burgin
Blue Period with Banjo, Polaroid ER print by William Wegman, 1980

William Wegman (born December 2, 1943) is an American artist best known for creating series of compositions involving dogs, primarily his own Weimaraners in various costumes and poses.[1]

Life and career

Wegman originally intended to pursue a career as a painter. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Massachusetts College of Art in 1965 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1967.

By the early 70s, Wegman's work was being exhibited in museums and galleries internationally. In addition to solo shows with Sonnabend Gallery in Paris and New York, Situation Gallery in London and Konrad Fisher Gallery in Düsseldorf, his work was included in such seminal exhibitions as "When Attitudes Become Form," and "Documenta V" and regularly featured in Interfunktionen, Artforum and Avalanche.

While he was in Long Beach Wegman got his dog, Man Ray, with whom he began a long and fruitful collaboration. Man Ray, known in the art world and beyond for his endearing deadpan presence, became a central figure in Wegman's photographs and videotapes. In 1982, Man Ray died, and was named "Man of the Year" by the Village Voice. It was not until 1986 that Wegman got a new dog, Fay Ray, and another collaboration began marked by Wegman's extensive use of the Polaroid 20 x 24 camera. With the birth of Fay's litter in 1989, Wegman's cast of grew to include Fay's offspring — Battina, Crooky and Chundo — and later, their offspring: Battina's son Chip in 1995, Chip's son Bobbin in 1999 and Candy and Bobbin's daughter Penny in 2004.

He appeared on The Colbert Report in 2010.

Wegman is the author of numerous books for children, including the New York Times bestseller Puppies. His latest children's book, Flo & Wendell, is published with Dial Books for Young Readers.

Exhibitions and critical context

His work, which includes photography, video, painting and drawing, is held in permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hammer Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Centre Pompidou and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

His work has also been a popular success, and have appeared in books, advertisements, films, as well as on television programs like Sesame Street and Saturday Night Live. In 2006, Wegman's work was featured in a retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Norton Museum of Art, Wexner Center for the Arts and the Addison Gallery of American Art. The show, entitled William Wegman: Funney/Strange, explored 40 years of his work in all mediums.[2]

He is represented by Marc Selwyn Fine Art in Los Angeles and Sperone/Westwater in New York City.

Public art

On Sesame Street

Wegman's dogs first appeared on Sesame Street in 1989. Fay Ray starred in segments like "Old McFay Counts to 40". In February 1996, descendants Battina (aka Batty), Crooky, Chundo, and Chip starred in new segments based on nursery rhymes. Wegman told Entertainment Weekly, "They are only [being shot] maybe 30 seconds at a time. The rest of the time they're sitting around, rather blasé about life."[3]

Segments include:

Featured Dog Letters - A, B, E, H, J, K, L, M, P, T, V, W and X

Featured Dog Nursery Rhymes


Books for children

Partial filmography

Released on Selected Video Works 1970-78

See also


  1. Henry Bond, "Wegman's Ritual: William Wegman in London," Creative Camera, Issue 307, December–January 1991, p. 44.
  2. William Wegman Retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, ARTINFO, May 28, 2006, retrieved 2008-04-23
  3. Kristen Baldwin "Dressed to the Canines" Entertainment Weekly 23 Feb, 1996.
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