William Wegman: TOP TEN BOOKS


William Wegman

Best-known for his wry and deeply sympathetic portraits of his four-legged muse, Man Ray, a Weimaraner, the artist William Wegman raised pet portraiture to a rare level of sophistication. An exhibition of his work at the Brooklyn Museum in 2006 prompted the New York Times art critic, Roberta Smith, to declare that “dogs or no dogs, Mr. Wegman is one of the most important artists to emerge from the heady experiments of the 1970’s.” The critic Sanford Schwartz once compared a series of large format Polaroids of Man Ray in his declining years to the work of Robert Frank in his legendary collection, The Americans. He has also made many hilarious short movies, including “The Hardly Boys in Hardly Gold” in which his dogs play a canine version of the Hardy Boys. But Wegman’s range is wide, and his beloved Weimeraners are only part of it. Many of his paintings revel in a love of nature that reflect his boyhood in rural Massachusetts, while the starting point for his postcard paintings are vintage postcards that he expands into large, elaborate scenes that speak to the gap between reality and fantasy. A new show at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont, tracing four decades of the artist’s work, runs through October 20.

Below are William Wegman’s favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set.


David Copperfield

Charles Dickens
This was Dickens’ favorite book and mine too. Charles and I have a lot in common.
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Green Henry

Gottfried Keller
So funny in the beginning but not in the end.  Do not read the back copy.  It is a 600-page book with all the major plot points given away in this one paragraph.

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After the Banquet

Yukio Mishima  
A perfect book from beginning to end. The characters, the story, the shape of it all. Perfect
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W.G. Sebald
I have read and reread this book many times. I will read it again. And then I will read it again. I forget what it’s about but the next time I read it I will know.
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Dead Souls

Nikolai Gogol
It’s funny and strange. Before reading Dead Souls, I read Nabokov’s Nikolai Gogol... I found it essential.
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The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov   

Vladimir Nabokov
The description of a tennis game is my favorite of these brilliant stories.
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Father and Son

Edmund Gosse
A son’s memoir of his father unwittingly more revealing about the son than the father. I love the cover of the Oxford World Classics edition. A painting by Eakins.
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Indian Summer

Adalbert Stifter  
Nature described in sumptuous detail. The most boring book ever written. A masterpiece.
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The Maias 

Eça de Queirós
An epic saga of the end of a great civilization. You never want it to end.
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The House of the Seven Gables

Nathaniel Hawthorne
Much weirder than I remembered from high school.
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