Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weegee (June 12, 1899)

Weegee, a New York newspaper photographer, was born Usher Fellig in Austrian Gallicia, and immigrated with his family to the Lower East Side of New York as a child. His images were impressive because he often found a different way to illustrate reality, especially dramatic moments such as fires or accidents.

A summary of his accomplishments:
"Weegee’s work tended to champion the underdog, whether within the Jewish community or among the African-Americans in Harlem. 'He shows the common person with a sense of dignity and empathy for humanity. And he treated the criminals in the same non-discriminatory way,' says Howard Greenberg, owner of the prestigious Howard Greenberg Gallery which specialises in street photography.

"The city’s Yiddish theatre scene which was flourishing at the time, also shaped the photographer’s work. ...

"Weegee was attracted to anything bizarre and extreme. “He got the images of weird New York unlike anyone else. With his use of the open flash, he froze moments where the elements of the photograph took on a surrealist look, such as the street scene where a mannequin looks like a dead body,” says Greenberg." -- from Weegee's New Yorkers in The Jewish Chronicle.
During his New York years, Weegee was recognized for the quality and uniqueness of his work; he was featured by the Museum of Modern art and in other exhibits. After World War II Weegee moved to Hollywood and worked in film, for which he's less well known than for his New York photos. He died in 1968.

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