WEEGEE "GIRL WITH PROBLEM", 1940
Innovative, provocative, inimitable - these are just a few of the words to describe America's boldest photographer.
He is America's most successful (and notorious) photojournalist. A self-taught artist, and master of self-promotion, he helped elevate photography's impact and potential while also validating the new profession of 'photojournalist'.
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.
While a number of his images may have been slightly staged, Weegee's work depicted unflinchingly realistic scenes of urban life.
By the early 1940's Weegee was experiencing fatigue with crime reportage. This coincidentally occurred at the time he began experiencing professional validation and acclaim. For example in 1941 The New York Photo League exhibited his work and he was also included in the MoMA's seminal exhibition "50 Photographs by 50 Photographers" (curated by Edward Steichen)
"Girl with a Problem" is a fine example of his transitional work. Viewers typically assume the worst of humanity when confronted with a Weegee photograph, as he frequently depicted the brutality (or its aftermath) of urban life.
Detailed notes verso explain that the woman is simply looking for a lost shoe. What first appears to be perhaps menacing, turns out to be more amusing. The subject has naked feet on newspapers with a hand on her hip, she seems to wait to find a solution. Weegee elaborated in ink: “a dog probably walked off with it.”
The 1940's are a significant period for Weegee, in addition to important exhibitions, he also published his best-selling photo books including Naked City (1945) and Weegee's People (1946).
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USA, circa 1940
Ferrotyped silver print
13.5"H 11"W (image)
Signed and commented “a dog probably walked off with it” on recto by the artist
3 hand stamps on verso
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