William Wegman

Being Human


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’s work focuses on his relationship with his Weimaraner dogs, combining a documentary style of photography with his dogs in various costumes and poses, and frequently invested with a subtle sense of humour. The exhibition features about ninety works, revealing Wegman’s ability to create witty, impressive, surrealist images.

Curated by William A. Ewing

William Wegman, an eclectic master of contemporary American art, is a versatile artist who resists easy classification, moving adroitly between painting, drawing, photography, film, video, books and performances. He rose to prominence on the international art scene for his photographic series featuring his dogs.

Since meeting his first Weimaraner, named Man Ray, in the 1970s, the photographer has made this breed the main focus of his photographs, using this rather unusual muse to portray characters, comment on fashion trends and address art history movements 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, bringing together works of 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, an event that marked the start of a four year tour which will include stops in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Europe. Lugano is the first stop in Europe.

The Catalogue
Being Human, edited by William A. Ewing is a catalogue containing more than thirty years of Wegman’s photographs published by Thames & Hudson, 2017. Also available in French (Textuel) and German (Schirmel).

  • LAC venue

  • Piazza Bernardino Luini 6, 6900 Lugano


William Wegman was born in 1943 in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He studied painting and began a career as a conceptual artist in the 1970s, 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 videos for Sesame Street have appeared regularly since 1989. In 1995, his 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, The David Letterman Show and 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.


William Wegman. Being Human (EN)


Texts by William A. Ewing
2017 Thames & Hudson
English edition
Ed. Thames & Hudson
252 pp.

ISBN 978-0-500-29319-5

William Wegman. Menschen wie wir (DE)


Texts by William A. Ewing
2017 Schirmer Mosel
German edition
Ed. Schirmer Mosel
252 pp.

ISBN 978-3-928-60809-1