Paparazzee! “I literally uncovered not only their faces but their black souls as well.”





Paparazzi! Photographers, stars and artists, Centre Pompidou-Metz and Flammarion, 2014

Images are from the book Paparazzi! Photographers, Stars and Artists, a catalogue for the exhibition (February 26 to June 9, 2014) at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, published by Centre Pompidou-Metz and Flammarion.

“Centre Pompidou-Metz dedicates an unprecedented exhibition to the phenomenon and aesthetic of paparazzi photography through more than 600 works (photography, painting, video, sculpture, installation, etc.).
Covering fifty years of celebrities caught in the lens, Paparazzi! Photographers, stars and artists considers the paparazzo at work by examining the complex and fascinating ties that form between photographer and photographed, going on to reveal the paparazzi influence on fashion photography.
By associating some of the genre’s leading names, including Ron Galella, Pascal Rostain and Bruno Mouron, Tazio Secchiaroli, with reflections on this modern-day myth by Richard Avedon, Raymond Depardon, William Klein, Gerhard Richter, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol, Paparazzi! Photographers, stars and artists sets out to define the paparazzi aesthetic.”
From the Centre Pompidou-Metz website

Weegee was obviously not a Paparazzi, if the definition of Paparazzi is: “a freelance photographer who pursues celebrities to get photographs of them.” And Paparazzi is “mid 20th century: from Italian, from the name of a character in Fellini’s film La Dolce Vita (1960).” (Google definition)
There are obvious similarities between Weegee’s photos of alleged criminals hiding their faces and photos of contemporary celebrities hiding their faces. Early in Weegee’s career he used a few Paparazzi-like tricks to photograph a few alleged criminals… With one or two exceptions, like kissing Dorothy Hart, Weegee was pretty tame towards celebrities. Weegee made caricatures of celebrities, he didn’t doggedly pursue them in real life…

“Seated in the chair was the handcuffed burglar. The minute he saw me, he covered up. Out of the side of his mouth, he said. “I don’t want my picture took!” (Such grammar!) But this guy was a hardened criminal and knew his rights. The cops couldn’t force him to pose for me. I put my camera down on a nearby desk, and said to no one in particular, “I’m going out to get a cup of coffee and a pastrami sandwich.” As I reached the door, I looked back. The guy was uncovered. The flash bulb went off when I pressed the remote control switch in my pocket, and I had my picture. When criminals tried to cover their faces it was a challenge to me. I litereally uncovered not only their faces but their black souls as well.”
Weegee by Weegee, p. 69

“I went into the basement where they were holding the girl [who was arrested for robbery]. As soon as she saw me, she covered up. “I just want to talk to you, lady,” I said. “I won’t take you picture unless I get permission.”
We talked. She wanted to know why she should let me take her picture so her friends could see her on the front pages of the papers. She was no dope, even if she had been caught. I argued with her: “Why don’t you let me take your picture? I’ll make you so glamorous, it’ll land you on the society page. You’ll get a lot of sympathy. Or, would you prefer that I get a rogues’ gallery picture from the cops with a number under it?” That was a lot of hooey, but I finally convinced her that it was the lesser of two evils to pose for me. This being a quiet Sunday night with the papers starved for pictures, I knew that I had a ready sale.”
Weegee by Weegee, pp. 69-70

Comments are closed.