Weegee

From Academic Kids

Weegee was the pseudonym of Arthur Fellig (June 12, 1899 - December 26, 1968), an American photographer and photojournalist.

Weegee was born Usher Fellig in Złoczew (Złoczˇw) near Lemberg, Austrian Galicia (now Zolochiv, Ukraine). His name was changed to Arthur when he came with his family to live in New York in 1910, fleeing anti-semitism.

He is best known as a candid news photographer whose stark black-and-white shots documented life in New York City.

Fellig's nickname was a phonetic rendering of Ouija, due to his frequent arrival at scenes only minutes after crimes, fires or other emergencies were reported to authorities. He is variously said to have named himself Weegee, or to have been named by either the girls at Acme or by a police officer. In 1938, Fellig was the only reporter with a permit to have a portable police-band shortwave radio in his car. Weegee worked mostly at night; he listened closely to broadcasts and often beat authorities to the scene.

Most of his photos were taken with a 4x5 Speed Graphic camera preset at f/16 at 1/200 of a second with a flash. He had no formal training, and was a self-taught photographer. He is sometimes said not to have had any knowledge of the New York art photography scene; but in 1943 The Museum of Modern Art included several of his photos in an exhibition, he was later included in another MoMA show organised by Edward Steichen, and he lectured at the New School for Social Research. He also undertook advertising and editorial work for Life and Vogue magazines, among others.

His acclaimed first book collections of photographs, Naked City (1945), became the inspiration for a major 1948 movie The Naked City (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040636/), and later the title of a pioneering realistic television police drama series.

Weegee also made short 16mm films from 1941, and worked with & in Hollywood from 1946 to the early 1960s as an actor and consultant. In 1958 he was a consultant for Stanley Kubrick's film, Dr. Strangelove. His accent was purportedly the inspiration for the accent of the title character in the movie.

In the 1950s and 60s Weegee experimented with panoramic photographs and photography through prisms. He also travelled widely in Europe in the 1960s, and took advantage of the liberal atmosphere in Europe to create photographs of nudes.

A 1992 motion picture, The Public Eye, starred Joe Pesci as a 1940s tabloid photographer who has a police radio in his car. TV Guide states that Pesci's character is "based, of course, on Weegee" and imdb's (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105187/trivia) trivia notes state that some of Fellig's photographs are shown in the film (as having been taken by Pesci's character).

Further reading

  • Weegee by Weegee (1961, autobiography)

External links

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