Biography

Weegee (1899-1968)

 

Probably few policemen have seen as much violent sin as Arthur Fellig, better known as Weegee, did. Specializing in crime and catastrophe, Weegee’s work is regarded as some of the most powerful images of the 20th century. His profound influence on other photographers derives not only from his sensational subject matter and his use of the blinding, close-up flash, but also from his eagerness to photograph the city at all hours, at all levels: coffee shops at three in the morning, hot summer evenings in the tenements, debutante balls, parties in the street, lovers on park benches, the destitute and the lonely. No other photographer has better revealed the non-stop spectacle of life in New York City.

 

During the 1930s and 40s Weegee worked as a freelance news photographer in New York City, and was the first private citizen to gain access to police radio transmits. He lived across the street from Manhattan police headquarters waiting for the inevitable call that would announce another gangland execution, botched hold-up, or crime of passion.

 

Weegee’s first book, Naked City, was a runaway success, making him an instant celebrity who suddenly had assignments from Life and Vogue. He was among the first to fully realize the camera’s unique power to capture split-second drama and exaggerated emotion. By the mid-40s, Weegee photographed the furred and bejeweled grandes damesat the Metropolitan Opera and celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, John F. Kennedy, and Liberace, as well as his beloved street people.

 

No other photographer has ever portrayed a city with Weegee's level of intimacy, amorality, complicitness and humor. While his intent was simply to photograph "the soul of the city I knew and loved," his unflinching eye set the trend for young, edgy photographers in the 1960s. He strips the citizens bare, all of them, poor, rich and middling. There is no looking down or looking up: he is too mixed up in everything he sees, too much part of the shenanigans, exposing the bare truth of a city filled with hungers, lusts, and passions.

 

Collections:
The Indianapolis Museum of Art
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Museum of Modern Art, New York City
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, United Kingdom
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
International Center of Photography, New York City

 

Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2012      
Weegee: Murder Is My Business- International Center of Photography, New York City
Weegee: Naked City – Steven Kasher Gallery, New York City
2011        
Naked Hollywood: Weegee in Los Angeles – The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
2006      
Unknown Weegee – International Center of Photography, New York City
2003      
Weegee’s Trick Photography – International Center of Photography, New York City
1997        
Weegee’s World: Life, Death and the Human Drama – International Center of Photography, New York City
1977      
Weegee the Famous – International Center of Photography, New York City
1962      
 Weegee by Weegee – Photokina, Cologne, Germany
1960      
Weegee: Charicatures of the Great – Photokina, Cologne, Germany
1941      
Weegee: Murder is my Business – The Photo League, New York City

 

Selected Group Exhibitions:
2004      
Out of Place – Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin
1948      
50 Photographs by 50 Photographers – The Museum of Modern Art, New York City
1943      
Action Photography – The Museum of Modern Art, New York City

 

Selected Publications:
Naked Hollywood: Weegee in Los Angeles published by Skira Rizzoli (2011)
Weegee: Murder Is My Business published by ICP (2011)
Unknown Weegee published by ICP/Steidl (2006)
Weegee: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum published by Getty Publications (2005)
Weegee published by Phaidon (2004)
Weegee’s World published by Bulfinch (2000)
Weegee’s New York Photography 1935-1960 published by Te Neues (2000)
The Village published by Da Capo Press (1989)
Weegee the Famous published by Capa, Cornell, and Coplans (1977)
Weegee’s Creative Photography published by Ward Lock (1964)
Weegee by Weegee: An Autobiography published by Da Capo Press (1961)
Weegee’s Creative Camera published by Hanover House (1959)
Weegee’s Secrets of Shooting with Photoflash published by Designers 3  (1953)
Naked Hollywood published by Pellegrini and Cudahy (1953)
Weegee’s People published by Duell, Sloan & Pearce (1946)
Naked City published by Duell, Sloan & Pearce (1945)