WEEGEE "WOMAN LAUGHING, HARLEM" 1945
Innovative, provocative, inimitable - these are just a few of the words to describe America's boldest photographer.
Arthur Fellig, better known as Weegee (1899-1968) was a ground-breaking, successful (and notorious) photojournalist. His images shot on the streets of New York City are iconic and influential.
In the 1930's he became the first New York City press photographer to obtain permission to install a police radio in his car. This allowed him to follow the city's first responders and to document their duties; responding to fire, crime, debauchery and of course, murder.
By the early 1940s Weegee was experiencing fatigue with crime reportage. Yet ironically it was also the point when he finally began experiencing professional validation and acclaim, to the point of being a minor celebrity. Notably in 1941 he was included in The MoMA's seminal "50 Photographs by 50 Photographers" (curated by Edward Steichen). The museum would also acquire five Weegee photographs for their nascent collection.
As the decade progressed Weegee's focus expanded, and one could argue that he began transitioning from a photojournalist to an artist. While he remained forever transfixed by New York's underbelly, he was certainly not confined to the gutter. Wherever there were crowds, energy and entertainment, Weegee would venture from the Bowery and Greenwich Village, to Times Square and Harlem.
This image is a quintessential example of Weegee’s candid subject if not a rare example of his portraiture. This sophisticated and smiling woman, captured enjoying a night out, is one of many images the artist captured of Harlem's residents. Besides photographing Saturday-night subjects (in music venues such as the Apollo Theatre and the Savoy Ballroom) he also adored church-goers. Weegee was particularly drawn to creating dignified and elegant images of African-Americans.
Weegee’s photography can be found in numerous museums and private collections worldwide: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Modern Art, Oxford and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Click here to see an example of this image at the International Center of Photography, New York.
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“Woman Laughing, Harlem"
Gelatin silver print
USA, circa 1945
Stamped with signature on verso
14”H 11"W (work)
21.5"H 17.5"W (framed)
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