cover image Fay


William Wegman. Hyperion Books, $34 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-6486-7

Just when Wegman seems to have stretched his weimaraner art pretty thin--what with his Fay's Fairy Tales series and concept books published for young readers, videos and merchandise--comes a disarming book to remind everyone of the wit and offhand originality that put Wegman on the map in the first place. This chronicle of his famous dog Fay Ray, who died in 1995, is also an exploration of the art she inspired, not only specific photographs but motifs, themes and techniques that he developed in working with her. It is also almost always funny, as Wegman manages to convey his love for his dogs and his work without ever taking himself too seriously or falling into jargon. When two of her puppies joined Fay in the studio, for example, Fay ""added stern to her portfolio of manners. Greta Garbo cross-fading with Joan Crawford."" Readers don't need to have dogs to understand and appreciate his handling of Fay: ""[Dogs] will go along with just about anything you do as long as it keeps them in the game,"" he explains. Technical discussions stay light and pertinent; trained as a painter, Wegman identifies himself as ""a resident alien in the world of photography,"" and he retains an outsider's ability to characterize his observations simply. The generous supply of color photographs and stills attracts the reader's attention; the deadpan intelligence of the text holds it. (Oct.)