Until 1970 when he got his first Weimaraner from a litter in Long Beach, California, William Wegman was just another West Coast conceptual tyro, doing regular doubletake stuff like spelling out the word WOUND in sticking plaster stuck to the face. He loved the way the puppy asleep looked like a dropped sock. That gave him an idea, a juicy bone of an idea, an idea worth fooling around with for years to come. Pausing only to name him Man Ray after the only all-American Surrealist, he began thinking up inappropriate poses.
Being a Weimaraner Man Ray could be relied on to look long-suffering no matter what and this was great when it came to role-plays involving mind-blowing costume changes. One moment he was an elephant with a stocking trunk, then he was ‘Fey Ray’ with scarlet claws, then a panting flower bed. Amazingly the ideas kept coming. Man Ray died, Fay Ray was acquired and photography resumed. There were big Polaroids, every bit as elegant as Robert Mapplethorpe’s but with lugubrious Weimaraners instead of hand-picked youths.
Over the years further models were added to this Canine Pretence League, their submissive dignity a constant mute reproach. Wegman has done other things in more conventional materials, but nothing listed in this catalogue is as endearing as his tricks of the trade with these admirable dogs.