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William Wegman treats Christchurch Art Gallery to NZ's first and only show

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A significant exhibition of work by US-based artist William Wegman opens at Christchurch Art Gallery on Saturday 6 April.

Dogs have occupied William Wegman's artworks ever since he brought his Weimaraner, Man Ray, to his studio in 1970. Being Human tracks three decades of relationships between the enigmatic American artist and his four-legged muses.

His first collaborator was the camera-loving Man Ray, an insistent participant in Wegman's work in the 1970's who became one of his most important inspirations. In the mid 1980's his second Weimaraner, Fay Ray, shot to true art-world stardom, followed by several generations of puppies.

Wegman's world may revolve around his celebrated dogs, but his choices of sets, costumes and props reveal a fascination with art history 'cubism, colour field painting, abstract expressionism, constructivism, conceptualism and, of course, photographer itself.

William Wegman: Being Human runs from 6 April to 28 July 2019 and is Wegman's first and only New Zealand exhibition to date. It's also Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu's first paid exhibition since its reopening in 2016.

Christchurch Art Gallery director Blair Jackson says he's thrilled to have such a through representation of Wegman's work show here at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu.

'William Wegman is part of the late 1960s - early 1970s American conceptualist movement' he is famous for working with his dogs, starting with his Weimaraner Man Ray, and has produced a huge body of work that examines the human condition through photography and video.

'I am also excited because he co-produced the hugely influential 1988 re-release music video for New Order's 'Blue Monday' at the time a record-breaking release in New Zealand's popular music charts,' Mr Jackson says.

'Wegman was one of the earliest artists to see popular culture as a platform for expanding artistic practice and gaining critical attention.'

Mr Jackson says working with Wegman continues the Gallery's legacy of collaboration with important artists, including Ron Mueck, Bridget Riles, Martin Creed and Jacqueline Fahey.

'It is also the first paying show we've offered since Mueck's exhibition, which safely landed between the earthquakes that changed our city forever' this exhibition therefore marks an important milestone as we continue to move our gallery and our collective goals forward.'

'I hope people walk away with a sense of fun and enjoyment, and experience something that is unique to them.'

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