Weegee: Benezit Dictionary of Artists

Every word below is copied from the Benezit Dictionary of Artists through Oxford Art Online:

WEEGEE
real name: Arthur Fellig, or Usher Fellig

American, 20th century, male.
Born 12 June 1899, in Lemberg, Austria (now Lviv, Ukraine); died 26 December 1968, in New York.
Photographer, photojournalist. Portraiture, fashion photography, abstractions, film.

Born Usher Fellig, the boy who would become Weegee received an Anglicized name upon his family’s immigration to America in 1910. Various odd jobs in New York included work as a darkroom assistant. In 1924 Weegee became the darkroom technician and night shift photographer for Acme Newspictures. Acme specialized in the sensational photo stories favoured by the tabloid press. Weegee slept in the darkroom and would often be the first to respond to fire and police alerts. His uncanny quickness to appear on the scene prompted Acme staff members to call him Weegee, after the Ouija board game. He used a standard press camera with a set focus and automatic flash but he also experimented with infra-red flash. In 1935 Weegee began working freelance for multiple news dailies. Unlike the heroic portraits taken by social documentarians, Weegee’s images of car accidents, murders and arrests were aimed at a largely illiterate audience and had to convey emotional narratives in one scene. His work greatly expanded in 1940, when he began work for PM Daily and was given total freedom of subject matter. After a solo exhibition at the Photo League in 1941, his work appeared in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His first photographic book, Naked City (1945), was a great success, but in 1947 Weegee left New York to pursue a career in film. In Hollywood, he began taking distortions and portraits of celebrities and politicians. His later life was spent travelling, lecturing and working for British newspapers.

Group Exhibitions:

1943, Action Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York
1948, 50 Photographs by 50 Photographers, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Solo Exhibitions
1977, International Center of Photography, New York
1984, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
1997, Weegee’s World, International Center of Photography
2002, Weegee’s Trick Photography, International Center of Photography
2006, Unknown Weegee, International Center of Photography
2012, Murder Is My Business, International Center of Photography

Museum and Gallery Holdings:

New York (International Center of Photography)
New York (MoMA)

Auction Records:

New York, 9 June 1999: At a Club in Harlem (1946, gelatin silver print, 10¾ × 10½ ins/27.3 × 27 cm) USD 2,070
Berlin, 23 Nov 2000: Asleep at Fire (1940–1945, gelatin silver print, 9 × 7 ins/22.8 × 18 cm) DEM 9,200
New York, 20 Feb 2001: Untitled (1936–1952, gelatin silver print, 16 × 12 ins/40.6 × 30.5 cm) USD 51,750
New York, 23 Oct 2002: Fire Escape (14 × 11 ins/35.6 × 27.9 cm) USD 5,676
New York, 26 April 2003: Vegetable Peddler (1946, gelatin silver print, 12¾ × 10½ ins/32.2 × 27 cm) USD 7,170
New York, 16 Oct 2004: Boston, Seat of Culture (1940–1949, gelatin silver print, 10½ × 13½ ins/26.6 × 34 cm) USD 20,400
New York, 20 Oct 2005: Four African-American Boys (1940–1949, gelatin silver print, 10¾ × 13½ ins/27.3 × 34.3 cm) USD 2,200
New York, 19 Oct 2006: Their First Murder (1941, gelatin silver print, 10½ × 13¼ ins/26.7 × 33.7 cm) USD 17,000
New York, 18 Oct 2007: The Critic (1943, gelatin silver print, 10½ × 13½ ins/26.7 × 34.2 cm) USD 31,000
New York, 17 Oct 2008: The Two Headed Photographer (c. 1940, gelatin silver print, 9¼ × 7½ ins/23.7 × 19.2 cm) USD 6,000
New York, 6 Oct 2009: Abstract Study, Circles (c. 1955, gelatin silver print, 9¼ × 7 ins/23.5 × 17.5 cm) USD 3,172
New York, 13 Dec 2010: Mob Rubout, Little Italy, New York City (1940–1949, gelatin silver print, 9½ × 7¾ ins/23.8 × 19.7 cm) USD 6,875
New York, 13 Dec 2011: My Studio (Weegee at Home in Back of Police Headquarters) (c. 1939, gelatin silver print, 9½ × 7½ ins/24.1 × 19.1 cm) USD 5,040
New York, 5 April 2012, At Sammy’s on the Bowery (1944, gelatin silver print, 13 × 10½ ins/33.5 × 27 cm) USD 7,500

Bibliography:

Weegee: Naked City, De Capo, New York, 1975.
Purcell, William: Weegee, Phaidon, Paris, 2004.
Lee, Anthony W./Meyer, Richard: Weegee and Naked City, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2008.
Meyer, Richard. Naked Hollywood: Weegee in Los Angeles, Rizzoli, New York, 2011.

Advertisements

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: