Friday, September 10, 2010

Arty Farty Friday ~ William Wegman & His Dogs

Whenever a dog turns up in a movie, TV drama or in real life - my attention is immediately drawn to it - no matter who else is on the scene - even if it happens to be one of my all-time favourite actors. So when I stumbled upon some doggy photographs by William Wegman I simply had to investigate. I love dogs.

William Wegman's career began as a teacher of art in college/university and as a painter. His acquisition of a pet Weimaraner who he named Man Ray, after the legendary artist/photographer, he began taking photographs of the dog. The Weimaraner's deadpan expression, along with imaginative poses and skilled camera technique Wegman used caught the attention of the public. After Man Ray died Wegman replaced him, some years later, with another Weimaraner, this time a female: Fay Ray, who seemed to enjoy being a photographer's model even more than her predecessor had. So the theme continued, and has developed into a set of children's books, books for adults, videos, calendars, prints, etc. Prints now sell in the thousands of $$$$.

Wegman's doggy family has grown to include Fay’s offspring — Battina, Crooky and Chundo — and later, their offspring: Battina’s son Chip (in photo, right) in 1995, Chip’s son Bobbin in 1999 and Candy and Bobbin’s daughter Penny in 2004.

A glance at some of Wegman's photographs tells us that his stock-in-trade is wit, humour, a touch of satire - and love of his subjects. Not all art critics and members of the public are enamoured of Wegman's work. Some see it as kitchy, cheesey and boring, while some dog lovers probably worry about animal cruelty. I don't care what art critics say, and I seriously doubt that cruelty enters into the scene - ever - at all. These dogs are born "hams" -doggy Oliviers and Garbos, you can tell!

William Wegman was born on 2 December 1943 in Holyoake, Massachusetts. 12 noon chart shown below.

He has a very positive chart - all Fire and Air, unless his unknown rising sign adds Earth or Water, that is. His Moon would have been in Aquarius whatever time he was born.

Lots of Air, then (here's the wit). Moon in quirky Aquarius: his photos are nothing if not quirky! Venus and Neptune (art and creativity) in Libra, ruled by Venus, planet of the arts. Uranus, Mars and Saturn in communicative Gemini, with Uranus opposing his Sagittarius Sun and Saturn opposing his Sagittarius Mercury. Uranus planet of the unexpected in a see-saw opposition aspect with his ebullient Saggitarius outer self, seems to echo his quirky Aquarius Moon. Serious Saturn in a balancing act with an exaggerating Mercury helps draw in the reins a little on Wegman's urge towards excess, and channels his talent towards business aims. Jupiter (representing publication) in outgoing Leo lay in harmonious trine to Mercury in Sagittarius - connects to the success and popularity of his work.

Not sure where to look for an astrological link to dogs/animals. I think I've read somewhere that Sagittarius Sun and its ruler Jupiter might be connected, and Venus, of course. In Wegman's chart Venus lay in harmonious sextile to Jupiter in Leo - that seems to fit.

Some examples of his photographs. I'm avoiding most which entail dressing the dogs in human clothes, those are my least favourite poses.





More pics HERE & Lots more can be seen using Google Image.

The photographer's own website


Gian Paul said...

A very enjoyable post you offer, T.
In my understanding animals belong in either House 5 or 6: In 5 if they are not "utilitarian", in 6 if e.g. like cows or a camel they serve some economical purpose. Who would want a camel as a pet? Maybe Paris Hilton one day, when she gets tired of her pig.

Wisewebwoman said...

The very first video I bough Grandgirl was a Wegman.
His images are extraordinary and the dogs can appear surreal.

Anonymous said...

I loathe Wegman and his work. I agree, the work is kitchy and boring, but that's not the only reason I hate it. The big problem is that it made a whole generation of dog owners believe their snapshots are fine art. I have seen several "vanity shows" by people who rented gallery space to show their ridiculous doggie snapshots, they did professional framing and set professional prices like they expected other people to buy them. And no doubt they had some kindly friends who humored them and indulged their fantasy of being an artist by buying a print. But this is not art. And worse, these vanity shows draw attention away from real fine artists, and displaces them from scarce exhibition venues.

Astrology Unboxed said...

Thanks Twilight. It put a smile first thing Friday morning. Normally, I am a cat person, but these picture are quirky, funny and in a whole way divine. It also reminds of my first and last attempt at being a dog owner.I was dead set in adopting a Weimaraner and ended up with a jack russell/cocker spaniel mix, named Vitoria. She was an interesting experience to say the least.
Maybe you could write some post about a cat artist :) at a later time.

R J Adams said...

I'm not a fan of 'doggy prints', but Wegman is certainly a pastmaster, and I see nothing to suggest any cruelty is involved.
Anon - how can you say it's not art. Are a pile of house bricks, or a sheep carcass floating in formaldehyde, more so?

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~ Thanks. Yes, I agree on House 5 or 6. It's frustrating not to have time of birth in so many cases, so we could investigate validity of the "House Theory" in general.

WWW ~ He's a new one to me, but I agree that he has a surrealist's eye and sensibility.

Anonymous ~ I understand your dislike, and the reasons for it. Yet couldn't the same argument be made against any amateur artists/photographers of any genre? Art or photography groups all over the world have their work framed and exhibited locally - all part of the fun and inspiration, I guess. The elite in all spheres are not entitled to "have it all" are they?

Astrology Unboxed ~ Good!
I'll look for something feline for a future post, Fabienne. It had crossed my mind, and I feel sure there's some cat artist doing good word - somewhere. I'll track them down soon.

RJ Adams ~ LOL! I see much more in Wegman than yer average animal photgrapher, yes. There's a certain sophistication and insight going on, different from the usual "fluff" pics on greetings cards etc.

Agreed that some things presented as modern art are well nigh impossible to understand and need someone to ask where "The Emperor's Clothes" are to be found. ;-)