From the National Press Photographer’s Association website:
“Indianapolis Museum Gets Yard Sale Trunk Of Weegee Photos
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (June 3, 2008) – The contents of an old trunk at a farmhouse yard sale in southern Kentucky in 2003 were worth far more than the trunk itself.
In it were 210 photographs by photographer Weegee (Arthur Felig, 1899-1968) and nearly 100 documents pertaining to his life, including pictures that spanned his career, portraits of the artist, letters and postcards, newspaper clippings, press passes, and Felig’s Social Security card.
It’s believed the trunk belonged to Weegee’s long-time companion, Wilma Wilcox. The contents included letters to Wilcox and photographs that were autographed to her.
The trunk and its contents were acquired that same year by Indianapolis documents dealer Steve H. Nowlin, and now it’s been acquired by the Indianapolis Museum of Art as a partial gift from Nowlin and a partial purchase funded by the Caroline Marmon Fesler Fund and the Alliance of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
The collection is considered to be second only to the Weegee photographs at the I C P in New York, which acquired the artist’s estate. [It’s not the second largest.]
The contents of the yard sale trunk include crime scene photographs from Harlem in the 1940s, audiences at jazz concerts, strippers, transvestites, Greenwich Village in the 1950s, and Weegee’s “distorted” images of celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Picasso, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and more.
Weegee was a photojournalist whose work was synonymous with New York City. From 1930 to the end of his life, he prowled the metropolis with his Speed Graphic camera—
[that’s absurd] from Uptown to Downtown, from the upscale to the down-and-out. While Weegee’s 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, most notably Diane Arbus who was a great admirer.
Ever the intrepid chronicler of the city, he began his career as a freelance photographer, providing gritty crime scene photos to the tabloids and he arrived on the scene so frequently in advance of the police that they told him that he must be using a Ouija board, which the photographer adopted as his moniker — “Weegee.” In 1945, Weegee compiled a selection of his candid street photographs into a book, Naked City, which brought him fame and which inspired the film noir classic of the same title.
Weegee’s photographs join the IMA’s growing photography collection. In 1992, the Museum embarked on building a comprehensive photography collection. While still accounting for a small fraction of the IMA’s collection of 28,000 works on paper, the photography holdings now number some 700 works and include vintage images by William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, Carleton Watkins, Charles Sheeler, Andre Kertesz, Alexander Rodchenko, Brassai, Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke White, Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, James Casebere, Gregory Crewdson among other masters of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.”
It’s funny how most of these “articles” sound exactly the same, make the same mistakes, the same over-generalizations, even use the same words, like “edgy”, make the same references, like “Arbus”…