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William Wegman Red Toys Analysis Essay

William Wegman is an artist particularly known for the photography of his dogs, Man Ray and Fay Ray. Fay Ray was purchased after the death of Man Ray, Fay Ray then gave birth to a litter of puppies, Battina, Crooky and Chundo. Wegman as well kept Battina’s off spring, Chip. Then Chip’s son Bobbin, then Candy and Chip’s puppy Penny. All dogs Weimaraner breed, all dogs featured in Wegmans artwork. In this piece in particular is Penny. In Red Toy the subject of this work is a large grey dog covered by 7 large, red coils of construction paper.

The subject takes up a majority of the piece standing on a soft, black platform, its paws are sinking in slightly the platform appears almost velvety. The background is black. There seems to be only a middle ground, as both the background and foreground feature nothing but empty space. The shoulders, chest, face, tip of its tail, and paws of the dog are visible under the coils. The paper appears to be torn into the pieces, only a few smooth cuts are seen. The cylinder around the dogs neck is the most noticeably torn, as it becomes smaller and jagged towards the bottom of the coil.

The red coils cover each of the dog’s legs and dogs back is as well covered. The largest coil covers the dogs back, hiding its tail. This is where the tip of the dog’s tail can be seen. The smallest and last cylinder is a faux tail placed on the dogs back. The fake tail is a smaller, curled piece resting on the very end of the largest red coil, where a tail normally would be. The dog remains in place, posing stilly and has its attention away from the camera towards the side. Light is used to make the red paper shine.

In the image your eye is as well drawn to the dogs own, one eye being paler than the other. Red toy is an abstract piece which draws the audience in through many visual effects, and easily holds the viewer’s eye. The piece Red Toy uses almost all of the Elements and Principles of art. Line is used through implied line. This is most noticeable in the red coils. Around the edges of the paper either rough, or smooth implied lines are seen. The structure of the red coils are as well examples of form. The dog itself has a unique form, but adding the paper creates an unusual, unnatural shape.

The cylinders around the dog’s legs make the subject’s legs appear perfectly straight. The faux tail also adds to the unnatural form. Value is one of the most noticeable element used. The stark background makes it seem the dog is almost floating in the photograph. Light is used to add shine to the coils, and point out how small the dog feels in comparison. Value is additionally seen around the dog’s face where the coil casts shadows across the dogs face. Texture appears within the dog’s fur; In comparison to the smoothness of the coils.

In conjunction the platform the subject stands upon appears to have a velvety texture. In Red Toy color is used most noticeably through the bright red of the paper cylinders. But more color is used than previously thought, for example, the subject’s single lighter eye. Or the shifting different colors of the dog’s fur. Space is shown by the dark background surrounding the dog. Balance is illustrated by asymmetrical balance. The dog is placed slightly to the left, and its figure was not even to begin with.

The subject is also placed at an angle, its end is placed further back than its head. Emphasis is utilized by the light shining on the paper. Another example of emphasis in the artwork would be the brightness of the dog compared to the completely black ambiance. Proportion is used sparingly in this portrait, the only part being the large red coils wrapped around the dog. The piece over all is a good example of variety and unity. I believe the art work is sending the message that the subject is humiliated.

The photographer was trying to capture a sense of embarrassment and punishment. When first viewing the artwork it’s humorous, the subject is seen in a setting which unusual and the dog s covered in unusual objects. Yet after really reflecting on the image and trying to see the photographer’s meaning, I see humiliation. The dog is clearly uneasy and confused, its bowed head evidence of such. The subject is as well in a position to suggest a loss of pride or confidence. Furthermore the figure’s tail is lowered, a common sign of an upset canine.

There is no evidence the dog for why the dog is being treated this way, and from the dogs body language it seems the subject has done nothing to deserve “punishment”. From this I feel I can confidently say this artwork is meant to represent the uneasiness and embarrassment that comes with many unwanted situations in life. The dog clearly doesn’t want to be in this position but it is never the less, which is much like how many in life end up where they don’t want to be. From letting down parental figures, to simply being pushed out of your comfort zone I feel this negative represents a wide array of situations that cause humiliation.

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