William Wegman: Being Human

William Wegman and William A. Ewing. Chronicle, $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4521-6499-1
Culled from over three decades of Wegman’s portraits of his Weimaraners—Man Ray and later Fay Ray and her several generations of offspring—the more than 300 photos collected in this volume vividly illustrate the artist’s witty, humanist approach to his subjects. Divided into 16 themed chapters, the book showcases some of Wegman’s best-known images of the dogs tricked out with people paraphernalia and dress alongside previously unseen gems from his personal archive. Even though Wegman claims to be averse to anthropomorphizing his dogs, his photos capture them at their most human looking. This is most evident in the chapters titled “Vogue” and “Style,” in which the dogs endure crimes of fashion with the blandly indifferent faces of runway models. Likewise, “People Like Us” and “More People Like Us” collect portraits of the dogs in diorama-like settings wearing the attire of everyday people and posed in often amusingly ill-proportioned postures. The book’s introduction playfully presents Wegman’s dogs as his collaborators and whimsically discusses the portraits—all of them beautifully lit and developed—in the context of contemporary artistic movements. In a concluding essay Wegman provides a brief history of his work with his Weimaraners—in whose soulful eyes and expressions, which seem to range from bemused to bored, viewers are likely to read their own interpretations of the human condition. Color photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 05/15/2017
Release date: 10/03/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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