"At the time, I was thinking about mythology and those Egyptian gods that were part-bird and part-human, so that filtered through. Fay is not really wearing the dress, though: it's on a hanger that was placed round her neck like a collar as she sat on a high table. It's the hanger that makes her look as if she has human shoulders. Fay was obsessed with balls so I threw one in: it cracks the scene – and the sickening anthropomorphic notion of dressing up a dog. Fay didn't go for the ball, though. She just followed it with her eyes: Weimaraners are pointers and know innately how to be still."
Slow Guitar is from the second year of working with Fay at the polaroid studio in nyc. I'm not sure where I picked up the red guitar but it was not unusual for me at the time to pick up random props at the spur of the moment on the way to the studio.
Fay was afraid of the city, petrified of street noises. It was torture getting Fay to the studio, but once there she was comfortable and very happy. She acted, and was treated, like a queen. She liked John Reuter, who I had been working with since the early eighties, and the couch and the fact that there would be lunch. What's not to like?
It was hard at first to figure out what to do with the guitar. I didn't want to repeat Blue Period, a riff on Picasso I had done with Man Ray, Fay's predecessor. Instead of using the modeling stand to begin to work, I dragged the couch over from the dressing room and Fay snuggled in. I layed the guitar over her, and when she didn't object, I snapped the shutter. About 70 seconds later the black was peeled off to reveal the image you see here. One or two more were taken but this was The One. It is one of my personal favorites.
Sunday, February 9, 4pm William Wegman Artist An Afternoon with William Wegman Sponsored by Cranbrook Art Museum
For information or to register for the Cocktails + Conversation event with William Wegman, click here.
Although William Wegman may be best known as a photographer for his creative compositions involving dogs—primarily his own Weimaraners in various costumes and poses—his career as an artist is much more varied and complex. Coming of age in the 1960s, Wegman was among the first generation to embrace conceptual art and video and by the early 1970s his work was being exhibited in museums and galleries internationally. Wegman will discuss his career as an artist, including his newest body of work, which finds him returning to his training in the arts as a painter.
William Wegman was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 1943. He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1965 with a BFA in painting, then enrolled in the graduate painting and printmaking program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, receiving an MFA in 1967. After teaching at various universities, Wegman’s interests in areas beyond painting led him to photography and the then-infant medium of video. While living in Long Beach, California, Wegman acquired Man Ray, the dog with whom he began a fruitful twelve-year collaboration. A central figure in Wegman’s photography and videos, Man Ray became known in the art world and beyond for his endearing, deadpan presence. In 1972, Wegman and Man Ray moved to New York. In 1986, a new dog, Fay Ray, came into Wegman’s life; and soon thereafter another famous collaboration began, marked by Wegman’s use of the Polaroid 20-by-24-inch camera. With the birth of Fay’s litter in 1989 and her daughter’s litter in 1995, Wegman’s cast of characters grew. His photographs, videos, paintings, and drawings have been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States, including Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Orange County Museum of Art in California. Wegman lives in New York and Maine.
“I spent my whole life watching and caring for them and trying to figure out what works for them. The reason why I’m good at taking their picture is I’m good at taking care of them, and I respect what they want. I’m always trying to learn what makes them individually happy.”