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 72)
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[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. The artist 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 three network ID's for Nickelodeon starring the dogs on pedestals.

His 1983 drawing, Visit the New Facility, became the illustration image for the splash page of Franklin Furnace Archives website when it first launched in 1996.[2] He had experimented with early performances with Man Ray at the space when it was located on Franklin Street in Lower Manhattan.[3]

He 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. He 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 20 x 24 inch Polaroid camera. He received the college's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1987.

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[edit]

His photos, which 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 his work in all media in the 2006 retrospective William Wegman: Funny/Strange.[4] The exhibition also ran at the Wexner Center for the Arts in 2007.

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

Public art[edit]


  • Hello Nature (Prestel, 2012). Texts by Kevin Salatino, Diana Tuite, and Wegman.
  • Funney Strange (Yale University Press, 2006). Texts by Joan Simon and 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 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 (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1990). Kunz, Martin, ed., texts by Martin Kunz, Alain Sayag, Peter Schjeldahl, 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 Wegman and Laurance Wieder.
  • William Wegman: Drawings, 1973-1997 by Wegman and 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[edit]

  • 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)
  • Alive from Off Center (1988) (TV series; co-host with Ann Magnuson)
  • Blue Monday '88 (1989) (New Order music video)
  • Dog on Pedestals (1992) (three 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)[5]
  • Sesame Street: William Wegman's Mother Goose (1997)
  • Front Porch (1999)

Released on Selected Video Works 1970-78[edit]

  • Milk/Floor
  • Stomach Song
  • Randy's Sick
  • Pocketbook Man
  • Talking Fish
  • Out and In
  • Rage and Depression
  • Massage Chair
  • Crooked Finger/Crooked Stick
  • Deodorant
  • Growl
  • Spelling Lesson
  • Drinking Milk
  • Starter
  • Bad Movies
  • House for Sale
  • Horseshoes

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 (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."[5]

Segments include:

  • "Old McFay Counts to 40" - Old McFay counts 40 lemons, some limes and one banana.
  • "Dog Alphabet" - The dogs form all the letters of the alphabet and some of the letters they make get their own sketches.

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

  • "Dog Numbers" - The dogs form the numbers 1 to 9 then count backwards from 9 to 0.

Featured Dog Nursery Rhymes

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Henry Bond, "Wegman's Ritual: William Wegman in London," Creative Camera, Issue 307, December–January 1991, p. 44.
  2. ^ "Design History: Website History". Franklinfurnace.org. 
  3. ^ Schlesinger, Kenneth. "Franklin Furnace: Archiving Avant-Garde Art". Franklinfurnace.org. 
  4. ^ William Wegman Retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, ARTINFO, May 28, 2006, retrieved 2008-04-23 
  5. ^ Kristen Baldwin "Dressed to the Canines" Entertainment Weekly 23 Feb, 1996.

External links[edit]