Picture postcard: William Wegman’s painterly world at Sperone Westwater
Videos on Saturday Night Live, endless photographs of beloved Weimaraners, and a trove of iconic paintings; William Wegman ticks all the right boxes. Now the Lower East Side’s Sperone Westwater Gallery is showcasing his latest endeavors: factoring and drawing on the imagery of vintage postcards, a personal love of his. ’William Wegman: Postcard Paintings’ features some 25 works, all with actual postcards as a signature motif, tucked into his oil paintings on wood panels.
’What’s new is exploring believable yet illusory interior spaces,’ says Wegman, referring to 2013’s The Great Indoors, a technicolour work that spans an astonishing 16 feet.
In reinventing surrealism for that particular panorama, Wegman takes his cue from a Kew Gardens postcard. ‘While including that postcard and others, I expanded the image so there is a perception of peering out windows and taking in veritable landscapes,’ says the artist, speaking from the Chelsea studio where he holds a cache of some 8,000 postcards.
The painting is a visual tour de force – a single red chair peeking out from the shifting planes of color, with a palette running from luminous greens to a lurid orange.
Nearby is 2014’s Summer Show, in which Wegman conjures up his notion of an art gallery. ’As a starting off point, I included postcards of colonial portraits from the New York Historical Society,’ he points out. Among those is one of former first lady Dolley Madison.
’They’re really an immersive experience so you step into a room with a startling perspective,’ says gallerist Angela Westwater. ’These paintings command wallpower in new and perceptive ways.’