27 Nov, 2009

Weegee: It’s A Crime To Take Photographs This Good…

Posted by: admin In: Creative Review

Henry Rosen (left) and Harvey Stemmer (centre) were arrested for bribing basketball players, January 25, 1945. All images: © Weegee/ICP/Getty Images, and courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery


Opening today at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London is an exhibition of photographs by Weegee of New York life in the 1930s and 40s.


After the Opera at Sammy’s Nightclub on the Bowery, c. 1944


Weegee worked as a press photographer, though his photographs are now viewed as a mixture of art, documentary and photojournalism. Apparently his nickname (Weegee’s real name was Arthur Fellig) was derived from the word ouija, due to his uncanny ability to arrive at a scene only minutes after a crime had taken place. Consquently Weegee’s images reveal an unflinching image of life in the city that is often violent and distressing. Yet he also captured the carefree attitude of New York society life between the wars.


Billie Dauscha and Mabel Sidney (r), Bowery Entertainers, December 4, 1944


Weegee used the basic press photographer equipment of the time, which was a Graflek camera and blue flashbulbs, which give his work its stark graphic quality. He would develop his images via a makeshift darkroom in the trunk of his car, allowing him to deliver his freelance shots to the newspapers as quickly as possible.


Max is rushing in the mornings bagels to a restaurant on 2nd Ave for the Morning trade c. 1940


Out of the River, February 24, 1942


Weegee: It’s A Crime To Take Photographs This Good… will be on show at Michael Hoppen Gallery until January 9, 2010. More info is here.



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