San Jose Museum of Art to Present a Survey of Work from William Wegman

Release date 
Monday, September 14, 2015

William Wegman
Ocean View, 2015
Pigment print
44 × 34 inches
Courtesy Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles
© William Wegman

Artists Including Me: William Wegman
October 3, 2015 – February 7, 2016

SAN JOSE, California (September 11, 2015) – The San Jose Museum of Art will present an exhibition of work by renowned American artist William Wegman, best known for his conceptually driven photos and videos of his Weimaraners. Artists Including Me: William Wegman, on view October 3, 2015, through February 7, 2016, introduces viewers to lesser known, deeply personal works in which Wegman reflects on his lifetime of engagement with art history, popular culture, humor, and philosophy in art. Artists Including Me showcases approximately forty works from the 1970s to the present including his recent postcard paintings, photographic collaborations with the dogs, videos, and a selection of the artist’s early conceptual drawings.

Originally conceived by the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the exhibition has been expanded significantly for its presentation at SJMA. Also on view here will be new photographs with the artist’s dogs Topper and Flo carefully posed on iconic modernist chairs designed by Charles and Ray Eames; a humorous video of an imagined “artist’s lecture”; and five rarely seen stop-motion videos that Nokia commissioned in 2004 for display on smartphones.

The exhibition features several of Wegman’s paintings from the last ten years, in which he used found postcards to create narratives about what might be happening beyond the frame. Drawing from his vast collection, Wegman affixes postcards onto the canvas and extends the ready-made images by embellishing a detail from one card and connecting it to the next, creating imaginary and dreamlike environments. The artist’s postcard paintings include subjects that range from imagined masterpieces to fictional museum galleries to art about art. In these artworks, Wegman constructs impossible new spaces, renders the familiar surreal, and tranforms the very artworks that were his inspiration in the process.

Among the artistic ancestors to whom Wegman pays tribute are Leonardo da Vinci, Edward Hopper, and Wassily Kandinsky, as well as landmark nineteenth-century Bay Area photographers Carleton Watkins (known for his sweeping views of Yosemite Valley) and Eadweard Muybridge (whose pioneering studies of motion were done at Palo Alto Stock Farm, Leland Stanford’s property that is now part of Stanford University). In his four-panel postcard painting I Kandinsky (2011), the artist extends the postcard imagery of Russian expressionist Wassily Kandinsky’s work with his own exploration of figuration and abstraction. He seamless connects the visuals from his imagination with the source images. Wegman also plays with the pretenses and oddities of the museum world by “installing” picture postcards of artworks and architectural monuments in fictional museum spaces that he creates through painting and collage. Works such as Reinstallation (2013) and Summer Show (2014) playfully comment on the common museum practice of organizing summer group shows as well as permanent collection exhibitions.

Artists Including Me also features a number of Wegman’s quick, cartoon-like ink sketches done in a deliberately naive style. In these wittily captioned drawings, Wegman combines words and images in absurd, often irrational juxtapositions. He enlists humor and wordplay to illustrate ideas about the art world and everyday life.

“Wegman’s early conceptual interests continually color his work, especially his love of language and visual puns,” says Rory Padeken, assistant curator at SJMA. As seen throughout the span of his works in various media, these playful visual puns often reveal Wegman’s appreciation for the work of art itself, but they also invite the viewer to imagine what lies just outside the field of view.”

The exhibition was organized by the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and curated by Kathryn Koca Polite and Kathleen Harleman. It is sponsored in part by the Krannert Art Museum Exhibition Support Fund. The exhibition has been expanded for presentation at the San Jose Museum of Art by the Wegman Studio and Assistant Curator Rory Padeken.

 

SAN JOSE MUSEUM OF ART

The San Jose Museum of Art celebrates new ideas, stimulates creativity, and inspires connection with every visit. Welcoming and thought-provoking, the Museum rejects stuffiness and delights visitors with its surprising and playful perspective on the art and artists of our time.

 

The San Jose Museum of Art is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San Jose, California. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for students with ID, and $5 for children ages 7 – 18. Members and children ages 6 and under are admitted free. For more information, call 408-271-6840 or visit www.SanJoseMuseumofArt.org.

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Programs at the San Jose Museum of Art are made possible by generous operating support from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San Jose, and the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation.