Persons looking on Weegee's incredible photographs for the first time find it hard to believe that one ordinary earth-bound human being could have been present at so many climatic moments in the the city's life.
The simplest explanation of the phenomenon is that true love endows a man with superhuman qualities, and Weegee is truly in love with New York. Not the New York that you and I know, but the New York that he has known, first as a poor immigrant boy and later as a free-lance newspaper photographer specializing in crime and violence.
Loving the city, weegee has been able to live with her in the utmost intimacy.
---Foreword Naked City written by William McCleery
Weegee is not the only artist to paint the city he loves. Click here for a sampleing of the changing representation of New York in Art.
I found Peter Conrad's article, "After Dark," extremely useful because of its emphasis on Weegee and the dark side of New York City. While I had not thought of it before, how could we have a website that focuses on New York City without some mention of the crime, etc. that is seemingly so prevalent in such a big city??
To me, Weegee's work sort of refutes the idea that New York City provides a great, good place. He felt that the installation that told the truth about the city was the, "teletype machine at police headquarters," and it seems to me that he felt that crime really defined New York City. He photographed dead bodies and the homeless and the prostitutes and felt that "after dark," the population was impelled by, "the savagery of id."
"When Weegee uncovers his city, his act isn't reconciliation but rape. Since the city is so whorishly flagrant in its indecency, how else should it be treated?"
I think that Weegee's portrayal of New York City really gives us something to think about in light of our consideration of "great, good places."
I also found Peter Conrad's article "After Dark," extremely interesting and informative for a variety of reasons. First of all, he introduces us to Weegee (birth name: Arthur Fellig), an Austrian immigrant who photographed the "whorish" side of New York during the 1930's and 40's. He was a photographer of the night, capturing the non-traditional images of New York. Weegee would be an excellent addition to our website because his work was not limited a specific neighborhood or topic. He photographed a variety of subjects including murder, fire, and the social scenes from the Lower East Side, Coney Island, Greenwich Village, and even Harlem.
International Center of Photography Midtown's current exhibit on Weegee's photographs
Book review on a Weegee biography
Brief history on Weegee's background
Weegee Reference Page
One of the central questions Dr. Lounsbury posed in class with Peter Conrad's "After Dark" text was why Weegee's photos went from lowly regarded crude photos to highly regarded pieces of artwork. In response I would like to suggest that violence has become an acceptable part of society beginning in the 1960's.
Prior to this time violence and it's disturbing effects were not realized on a national level. Only big cities such as NYC or LA were associated with as having crimes. Television, in particular the nightly news, introduced Americans to violence not only in their hometowns but nationally with the broadcast of the Vietnam War. Movies such as Bonnie and Clyde were instrumental films, never before had crime been glorified on the big screen. Americans were becoming aware of the increases in crime particularly violent crimes. Our obsessions with motives and passions behind the crimes were just formulating.
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