Would dog-inspired artwork make your dreaded daily commute a bit more bearable? Artist William Wegman made this a reality for New Yorkers by photographing his Weimaraners, Flo and Topper, for 11 mosaic murals in the 23rd Street F/M Subway station. Wegman and his dogs live and work in this Chelsea neighborhood.
For the past 40+ years, Wegman has been making portraits of his beloved dogs. It’s obvious by his artwork that Weimaraners are his breed of choice, but why? In 1970, Wegman got his first dog, a Weimaraner who he named Man Ray. The dog became known in the art world for his humorous straight-faced presence in Wegman’s photographs. When Man Ray died in 1982, he was named “Man of the Year” by the Village Voice.
Four years after Man Ray’s death, Wegman got a new dog, Fay Ray. Fay had a litter in 1989, and Wegman’s photography subjects grew to include Fay’s offspring — Battina, Crooky, and Chundo. Later, these dogs’ offspring also joined his work (Battina’s son Chip in 1995, Chip’s son Bobbin in 1999, and Candy and Bobbin’s daughter Penny in 2004).
The murals, which feature Wegman’s two current Weimaraners, were produced by mosaic fabricator Mayer of Munich. He transferred the colors of Wegman’s photographs into hundreds of mosaic pieces. This process took six months.
Bringing 23rd Street Station to Life
The renovated F/M line station reopened on November 29, but five days later, commuters still stopped to admire the meticulous artwork. Diana Delgrosso, who lives in Queens and rides on the F/M, says she worries the artwork won’t stay as pretty as it is now if other commuters don’t respect it. While waiting for her train, she worked to peel sticky foam and business cards off the mosaic dogs’ noses.
The brightly colored backgrounds and grey-toned dogs already brighten up the walls, so why the outfits?
“I wanted to create portraits of individual characters, people who you might see next to you on the platform,” Wegman said in a statement. “For these, I dressed the dogs in more or less ordinary clothes, nothing too fashionable.”
The popularity of Weimaraners as pets and hunting dogs took off in the 1950s, with owners like President Eisenhower and Grace Kelly. But Wegman’s photography gave the breed the biggest boost of publicity.
Check out these famous Weimaraners the next time you’re in New York City on the walls of both the uptown and downtown F/M stations. Find other dog artwork? Tag us on social media.