Though William Wegman is best known for his playful photographs of Weimaraners, he has worked across various mediums—including painting, drawing, and video—over the course of his long, celebrated career. In New York, a new solo show at Magenta Plains puts on display a selection of the artist’s drawings and altered photographs as well as a recent postcard painting, one of many he has produced over the decades.
The show came about, in part, through the decades-long friendship between Wegman and gallery owner David Deutsch, also a painter. Their jovial connection comes through in one of Wegman’s altered photographs, Untitled (My dog has fleas…) (1972), which features Wegman and Deutsch seated at a desk, one of them typing away at a typewriter as the multicolored titles of various plays and musicals dance around the onlooker.
Playfulness permeates the entire show. The various artworks, which date from 1972 to 1997 (except for the postcard painting, which Wegman produced in 2015), possess lightness and whimsy that reflect the freedom the artist finds in drawing. “By drawing, I can deal with really far-fetched content, subjects that are awkward for photo or video recording,” he has said. “Drawing opened up a realm of possibilities.”
In Living in Pick-Up Trucks (1973), a cartoonish pencil-on-paper sketch, Wegman comments on the uniformity and car culture of suburbia by transforming one-story, prairie-style homes into pickup trucks. Elsewhere, in the altered photograph Drawing Hand (1975), he reflects upon the act of drawing. With economy and understatement—signature qualities of his work—Wegman draws a thick, curving black line over an image of a hand holding a pen, thus binding the artist to his creation.
“William Wegman” is on view at Magenta Plains, New York, Mar. 17–Apr. 24, 2016.