William Wegman

Being Human


Visit the exhibition website: http://events.masilugano.ch/wegman/

MASI, in collaboration with the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, presents a major exhibition dedicated to the world-renowned American artist, William Wegman. The photographer focuses his works on his relationship with his Weimaraner dogs, combining a documentary style of photography with careful set designs, and often loading his shots of a subtle sense of humor. The exhibition features about ninety works, revealing Wegman’s ability to create funny, impressive, surrealist images.

The exhibition
William Wegman, an eclectic master of contemporary American art, is a renowned, versatile artist who resists an easy classification, as he moves adroitly between painting, drawing, photography, film, video, books and performances. He rose to prominence on the international art scene for his series of images featuring his dogs. Ever since he met his first Weimaraner - whom he called Man Ray - in the seventies, the photographer has made dogs of this breed the main focus of his photographs, using this rather unusual muse to portray characters, comment on fashion trends and address movements in art history with great perspicacity and irony.

His Weimaraners Man Ray, Fay Ray, Penny, Bobbin, Chip, Chundo, and Crooky, and several generations of their pups, are the focus of his big Polaroids: unique and unretouched photographic prints, underlining the photographer’s skills and his subjects’ spontaneity and demonstrating the artist’s exceptional harmony with his dogs. Every shot may be viewed as the result of a partnership, rather than the creation of a single craftsman. Being Human looks back over the evolution of this unusual artistic partnership that has lasted thirty years, serving as a kind of mirror of human nature.

The exhibition includes a selection of about 90 Polaroids along with a dozen pigment prints selected by exhibition curator William A. Ewing in close collaboration with the artist and divided into chapters, each of which brings together works which address a specific theme, or which are connected by similar visual allusions. The project is implemented by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis/New York/Paris/Lausanne and has inaugurated at the "Rencontres d'Arles" in summer 2018, event that marked the start of a four years tour which will include stops in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Europe. Lugano is the first European stop.

The artist
William Wegman was born in 1943 in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He studied painting and began a career as a conceptual artist in the seventies, participating in some of the most significant exhibitions of the time, such as When Attitudes Become Form (1969) and Documenta V (1972). Monographic exhibitions of Wegman’s work have been organized world-wide, including at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn; Kunsthalle Bern, Bern. In addition, Wegman's work has been regularly presented in magazines such as Interfunktionen, Artforum and Avalanche.

Over the years, Wegman has created film and video works for Saturday Night Live and Nickelodeon, and his video segments for Sesame Street have appeared regularly since 1989. In 1995 the film The Hardly Boys was screened at the Sundance Film Festival. He has been commissioned to create images for a wide range of projects including a fashion campaign for Acne, a banner for the Metropolitan Opera and covers for numerous magazines, including The New Yorker and, more recently, Wallpaper. He has appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno, on the David Letterman Show and on the Colbert Report. William Wegman lives in New York and in Maine, and continues to paint, draw, make videos and photograph his dogs, Flo and Topper.

The catalogue
In 2017 Thames & Hudson published Being Human, a catalogue edited by William A. Ewing which collects more than thirty years of photographs by Wegman. The volume is also available in French (Textuel) and German (Schirmel).

Curated by William A. Ewing


  • Piazza Bernardino Luini 6, 6900 Lugano


William Wegman. Being Human (EN)