Where does the name Weegee come from? The story starts with Usher Fellig immigrating to the USA in 1909 from what is now Ukraine. After feeling pressed by assimilation, he changed his name to Arthur.
Once Arthur started working as a photographer in New York City in 1924, he slowly became “spellbound by the mystery of murder.” As a freelance photographer he was on the beat for crime in the city.
He had an uncanny intuition that led him to crime scenes before anyone else. His colleagues felt mystified by him, and named him after the Ouija board, hence, Weegee.
Weegee’s aesthetic is quickly identifiable; black and white photography with a strong, direct flash capturing the underbelly of NYC. Traveling around NYC with his portable police-band shortwave radio, he documented the harsh truths of crime in the city. He was able to photograph, develop (in the trunk of his car), and publish photos at an incredible rate of time. Appreciated for his exciting imagery and turnaround time, he was the trusted photographer the Herald-Tribune, Daily News, Post, The Sun, and PM Weekly.
He passed away in 1968, but the value of his work is still as appreciated as it was when he started. Harold Greenberg Gallery in NYC is exhibiting his work from his most prolific era- the 1940s. The photos are on display until April 1st.
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