William Wegman (photographer)

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"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 (age 71)
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(s) 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 artist best known for creating series of compositions involving dogs, primarily his own Weimaraners in various costumes and poses.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Wegman reportedly 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.

While teaching at California State University, Long Beach, he acquired the first and most famous of the dogs he photographed, a Weimaraner he named Man Ray (after the artist and photographer). Man Ray later became so popular that the Village Voice named him "Man of the Year" in 1982. He named a subsequent dog Fay Ray (a play on the name of actress Fay Wray).

On January 29, 1992, Wegman appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and showed a video clip of Dog Duet, a short which he made in 1975 featuring Man Ray and another dog slowly and mysteriously peering around. Wegman explained that he had created the video by moving a tennis ball around, off-camera, thus capturing the dogs' attention [1]. The same year, he did 3 network ID's for Nickelodeon starring the dogs on pedestals.

William Wegman was artist-in-residence at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts in spring 2007 where his work featured on campus in the Addison Gallery of American Art.

Wegman has also been an artist in residence at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, Massachusetts where his Circus series was created with the College's 20x24 inch Polaroid camera. He received the College's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1987.

Wegman 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[edit]

Wegman's photos are well respected in the art world, are 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 photos and videos have 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, and the Addison Gallery of American Art. The Brooklyn Museum explored 40 years of Wegman’s work in all media in the 2006 retrospective William Wegman: Funny/Strange.[2] The exhibition also ran at the Wexner Center for the Arts in 2007.

William Wegman is represented by Marc Selwyn Fine Art in Los Angeles, CA and Sperone/Westwater in New York, NY


  • Hello Nature

Prestel, 2012. Texts by Kevin Salatino, Diana Tuite, and William Wegman.

  • Funney Strange

Yale University Press, 2006. Texts by Joan Simon and William Wegman

  • How Do You Get to MOMAQNS?

New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2002.

  • William Wegman: Polaroids

New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2002.

  • Fay

New York: Hyperion, 1999.

  • William Wegman: Fashion Photographs

New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999. Text by William Wegman and Ingrid Sischy.

  • Field Guide to North America and to Other Regions

Venice, California: Lapis, 1993; French-language edition: Le Havre, France: Editions Flux, 2004. Translation by Heather Allen and Pierre Guislain.

  • William Wegman: Paintings, Drawings, Photographs, Videotapes

Kunz, Martin, ed. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1990. Texts by Martin Kunz, Alain Sayag, Peter Schjeldahl, William Wegman, Peter Weiermain, and David Ross.

  • Everyday Problems: William Wegman

New York: Brightwater, 1984.

  • $19.84 Buffalo, New York: Center for the Exploratory and Perceptual Arts, 1984.
  • Man's Best Friend

New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1982, 1999. Texts by William Wegman and Laurance Wieder.

  • William Wegman: Drawings, 1973-1997

by William Wegman, Frédéric Paul F.R.A.C. du Limousin, France

  • William Wegman : L'oeuvre Photographique, 1969-1976

Limoges : Fonds regional d'art contemporain Limousin, 1993.

Books for children:

  • Flo & Wendell

New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2013.

  • Dress Up Batty

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2004.

  • Chip Wants a Dog

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2003; London: Turnaround, 2003.

  • William Wegman's Wegmanology

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2001; London: Turnaround, 2001.

  • The Night Before Christmas

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2000; London: Turnaround, 2001. Text by Clement Clarke Moore.

  • Surprise Party

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2000; London: Turnaround, 2001. French-language edition: Joyeux Anniversaire. Paris: Editions Seuil Jeunesse, 2001.

  • William Wegman's Pups

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1999; London: Turnaround, 1999.

  • Baby Book

San Francisco: Chronicle, 1999. French-language edition: Le Livre de Bébé. Paris: Editions Seuil Jeunesse, 1999.

  • What Do You Do?

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1999.

  • My Town

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1998; Scholastic 1999.

  • William Wegman's Farm Days: or How Chip Learnt an Important Lesson on the Farm, or a Day in the Country, or Hip Chip's Trip, or Farmer Boy

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1997; Scholastic, 1998.

  • Puppies

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1997.

  • William Wegman's Mother Goose

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1996.

  • Triangle, Square, Circle

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1995.

  • 1, 2, 3

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1995.

  • ABC

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1994.

  • The Making of Little Red Riding Hood

New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1994.

  • Cinderella

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1993, 1999; New York: Scholastic, 1996. German-language edition: Munich: Schirmer/Mosel, 1993. Texts by Carole Kismaric and Marvin Heiferman.

  • Little Red Riding Hood

New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1993, 1999. Texts by Carole Kismaric and Marvin Heiferman. German-language edition: Rotkäppchen. Munich: Schirmer/Mosel, 1994; Spanish-language edition: Caperucita Rojer. Barcelona: Ediciones B., 2000.

Partial filmography[edit]

  • Dog Duet (1974)
  • Dog Baseball (1986)
  • Blue Monday '88 (1989) (New Order Music Video)
  • Dog on Pedestals (1992) (3 network ID's for Nickelodeon)
  • Fay Presents: Alphabet Soup (1995)
  • Fay Presents: Fay's 12 Days of Christmas (1995)
  • The Hardly Boys in Hardly Gold (1996, screened at Sundance)[2]
  • Sesame Street: William Wegman's Mother Goose (1997)
  • Front Porch (1999)
  • Milk/Floor (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Stomach Song (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Randy's Sick (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Pocketbook Man (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Talking Fish (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Out and In (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Rage and Depression (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Massage Chair (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Crooked Finger/Crooked Stick (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Deodorant (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Growl (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Spelling Lesson (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Drinking Milk (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Starter (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Bad Movies (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • House for Sale (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")
  • Horseshoes (released on "Selected Video Works 1970-78")

On Sesame Street[edit]

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, 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:

  • "Old McFay Counts to 40", 1989, with Fay Ray as Old McFay.
  • "Little Miss Muffet", 1996, with Crooky as Little Miss Muffet.
  • "Jack and Jill", 1996, with Crooky as Jill, and Chundo as Jack.
  • "Jack Sprat", 1996, with Chundo as Mrs. Sprat, and Chip as Jack; Wegman notes this is the first time that his dogs played characters, not their gender.

Public art[edit]

  • 'Flock' and 'Mooselook', Maine Turnpike Authority murals. [3] (2007) Photographic murals installed in northbound and southbound West Gardiner and Kennebunk service areas.
  • 'Ready and Howdy', Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Art in Transit Program. (2001) L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station.
  • La Jolla Vista View [4] (1988) was Wegman's first major outdoor permanent sculpture, a part of the Stuart Collection on the campus of the University of California, San Diego.


  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.

External links[edit]