William Wegman interviewed by Paris Photo
Following our recent exhibition, William Wegman: Polaroids, Huxley-Parlour was delighted to present a unique solo presentation of work by William Wegman at Paris Photo 2018, in collaboration with the artist. In a series produced for the 2018 edition of the fair, Paris Photo interviewed a selection of artists and curators including Wegman, offering a rare insight into the artist’s working practice.
Known for his use of Weimaraners as models, Wegman’s work challenges traditional notions of portraiture. Having originally intended to pursue painting as a career, it was while he was employed as a teacher at California State University that Wegman came by the first of the Weimaraners he would later feature in his photographs.
The interview sees the artist discuss the differences between the practices of painting and photography, as well as the amalgam of references to be found in his work. Where Wegman’s early black and white photographs rejected art historical reference in their Conceptualism, the artist recognises the influence of both Cubism and Surrealism in his more recent work.
Wegman also discusses his method with reference to changing technology. His work with the Polaroid Corporation from 1979-2007 brought with it a move into colour and large-format photography. This period also witnessed the establishment of digital photography and its transformative effect on post-production, which Wegman sees as having altered the balance away from the previously ‘theatrical event’ of working in the photographic studio.
Of particular interest is the artist’s discussion of humour in his work. Wegman acknowledges the inherent comedy of his early video work, but believes the Polaroids and later photographic prints, along with their canine protagonists, to be entirely serious:
“It’s not all about the dog but it is too, the dog is definitely the muse here.”
William Wegman is represented in the United Kingdom by Huxley-Parlour Gallery. The video, made and produced by Paris Photo, can be viewed here.