William Wegman Funney/Strange William Wegman, Joan Simon

Publication date:
31 Mar 2006
Yale University Press
304 pages: 267 x 190mm
293 color illus.
Sales territories:

A comprehensive and intriguing look at the witty and sophisticated art of William Wegman, beloved by the general public and held in critical esteem within the international art world

This fascinating book reveals the full range of William Wegman’s art. Beloved by the general public for signature photographs of his troupe of Weimaraners, Wegman is also an immensely important figure in the contemporary art world.

A pioneer video-maker, conceptualist, performer, photographer, painter, draftsman, and writer, Wegman moves fluidly among various media: from conceptual works to commissioned magazine shots; from videos shown in museums to television segments made for Sesame Street and Saturday Night Live; from artist’s books parodying nineteenth-century naturalist studies to children’s books revealing tongue-in-cheek portraits of town and country life;  from photographic “landscapes” employing his canine muses to his most recent cycle of landscapes combining found scenic souvenir postcards with drawing, collage, and painting. Underlying all his creations is the light humor of “funny” mediating the darker human comedy of “strange.” Speaking to the absurdities of daily life, Wegman’s work is universally appealing.

William Wegman: Funney—Strange is illustrated with some 250 images. It is the first retrospective volume to consider the artist’s entire career from the 1960s to the 2000s and is an essential book for any fan of Wegman’s work.

JOAN SIMON is curator-at-large for the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. She is also a contributing editor to Art in America and has worked independently for museums, foundations, and publishers in the U.S. and Europe.

Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts (April 7 – July 31, 2007)

Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach (November 4, 2006 – January 28, 2007)

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. ( July 4 – September 24, 2006)

The Brooklyn Museum (March 10 – May 28, 2006)

"The retrospective of William Wegman's multifarious career. . . simultaneously confirms why Mr. Wegman hasn't always received the respect he deserves and why he deserves it. The short explanation—on both counts—is that he has been too innovatively funny for too long and on too many levels (visual, verbal, commercial and arty) for people to see the serious artist behind the inveterate jokester. He's also been funny in too many mediums for his achievement to be easily grasped. . . . In his long and productive career, Mr.Wegman has remained as true as any of his legendary 1970's contemporaries to the belief that the artist's job is to make something that doesn't look like art. . . . His best work juggles the many balls of Post-Minimalism—process, language, performance—with an amateurish finesse that few of his
contemporaries match. . . . He has not only embraced Americana, but he has also become part of it."—Roberta Smith, The New York Times