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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

A Dip Into The Archives: William Wegman

A Dip Into The Archives: William Wegman

William Wegman: Woof Woof

©William Wegman, (left) Red Toy, 2006; (right) Hat Dogs, 2013. Courtesy of the artists

©William Wegman, (left) Red Toy, 2006; (right) Hat Dogs, 2013. Courtesy of the artists

Interview by Andrea Blanch

ANDREA BLANCH: Were you a painter or a photographer first?

WILLIAM WEGMAN: I was first a painter, and then after grad school I had grad students teach me how to print and develop at the University of Wisconsin where I was teaching.

AB: Why the foray into photography? Was it just curiosity?

WW: I was doing performance, installation pieces and temporary pieces, and I wanted to document that. First, I would have my friend Robert Cumming doing the photography, but eventually he said, “Get your own camera and do it.” So I did. I thought it was really important to communicate with the rest of the world, and photography and video was a way to do that. Painting just seemed reproduced; it wasn’t the same.

AB: What do you mean when you say you were thinking more about the picture?

WW: I remember floating things down the Milwaukee River, then getting up on a bridge and photo- graphing them. I realized that I was positioning myself to make it look a certain way. I think I also wanted to communicate with people other than just fellow students or other people who happened to be there.

34465-adj. ©William Wegman, Hot and Pink, 2004. Courtesy of the artists. 

34465-adj. ©William Wegman, Hot and Pink, 2004. Courtesy of the artists. 

AB: How did we get to the dogs?

WW: After I moved to L.A., I got this very young puppy who went to my studio. He was really interested in it, always putting his face in front of the camera or helping me set things up. That’s how that happened. I had just started to get involved in video, and he was amazing, how he looked in those videos.

AB: Were you surprised at the popularity of the dog photographs?

WW: No, because I knew it was pretty amazing right off the bat. I knew that I had reached people who weren’t just in the art world as well as the coolest people in the art world. Even Jasper Johns liked my work. I had more of a problem when I started to dress up the dogs and do the children’s books. I did a couple of ads, and then it really got big. I was doing book signings and things like that. There was a lot more press in the early ‘90s. Then it became more confusing, because I got rampant interest from dog people. I think it alienated certain factions in the art world, which is expectable.

wegam1. ©William Wegman, (left) Roller Rover; (right) Lolita, 1990. Courtesy of the artist.

wegam1. ©William Wegman, (left) Roller Rover; (right) Lolita, 1990. Courtesy of the artist.

Want to read the full interview? Click here to see it in Musée issue No. 11 Vanity !  

 

 

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