Shelburne Museum is proud to present William Wegman: Outside In, a comprehensive exhibition exploring over four decades of the renowned artist’songoingfascination with the natural world.Organized by the William Wegman Studio and Shelburne Museum’s assistant curator, Carolyn Bauer. This poignant exhibition is drawn from the artist’s collection andshowcases over 60 works of art in a variety of media.
In addition to a selection of 20x24 Polaroid photographs with his beloved Weimaraners, for which he is so well known, William Wegman: Outside Inalso featuresportfolio pages from his handmade book Field Guide to North America and to Other Regions, drawings, and his most recent postcard paintings, including two new works inspired by archival postcards of Shelburne Museum.
An Unparalleled Artist
Renowned artist William Wegman (b. 1943) perhaps is best known for his photographs of his Weimaraners, his faithful models and collaborators for over 40 years. Formally trained as a painter, Wegman emerged as a video artist in the 1970s, a key figure in what came to be known as West Coast Conceptualism. While he was in California, Wegman adopted a Weimaraner who he named Man Ray and began a long and fruitful collaboration. Wegman’s photographs, videos, drawings, and paintings have been the subject of numerous exhibitions and retrospectives at museums and galleries around the world for over five decades.
While his vast body of art includes a variety of media and collaborations with successive generations of his dogs, Wegman’s oeuvre is connected through thoughtful interchanges between dry wit, inquisitive exploration, and references to art history, American philosophy, and popular culture.
Central to Wegman’spractice is his recognition of the artist’s hand, a sharp sense of humor, and an enduring relationshipto the natural world. Growing up in western Massachusetts, Wegman engaged in outdoor activities from a young age, spending time exploring the backwoods, playing hockey on frozen quarry ponds and fishing.Dividing his time between New York City, upstate New York, and Rangeley, Maine, Wegman continues to find inspiration in nature and a nostalgia for the wilderness wonderland of his childhood.
In Wegman’s world, the great outdoors is peculiar and fantastical, ripe for endless artistic exploration. Familiar with the written and visual history of nature through art and philosophy, Wegman incorporates a wide range of references in his work, from Boy Scout manual instructions and camping cookbooks to Transcendentalist writings.
Wegman’s collaborations and exchanges between nature and his dogs result in transformative works of art. Urging viewers to looks beyond his models, the artist asserts, “Yes, it’s a dog. Yes, it’s a Weimaraner. But what has it become? The dogs are always in the state of becoming something. They become characters, objects. When they’re lying down they become landscapes.”
Likewise, Wegman’s series of postcard paintings depict expansive landscapes offering limitless perspectives and realities, using vintage postcards as starting points. He expands their limited narratives by extending the images’ pictorial planes, creating entirely new, imagined worlds.
Wegman at Work
In addition to numerous touring retrospectives — including Wegman’s World(1981), William Wegman: Paintings, Drawings, Photographs, Videotapes(1990), Funney/Strange (2006-07) and Hello Nature (2012)— recent exhibitions of Wegman’s work include Dressed and Undressed at SperoneWestwater Gallery, New York, and William Wegman and California Conceptualism at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Wegman has created video works for Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon and Sesame Street, and has made appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and with Jay Leno, The David Letterman Show and The Colbert Report.His 35-mm film The Hardly Boys was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 1996. His numerous publications include The New York Times Bestseller, Puppies, Man’s Best Friend, Fashion Photographs, William Wegman: 20 x 24 and the children’s books Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, ABC, Mother Goose, Farm Days, My Town, Surprise Party,and Chip Wants a Dog. His most recent book is William Wegman: Being Human (Thames and Hudson) which is accompanied by a touring museum exhibition.
Location: Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education’s Murphy Gallery