WEEGEE "OCEAN DANCER DISTORTION", c. 1950
Innovative, provocative, inimitable - these are just a few of the words to describe America's boldest photographer.
Arthur Felling, better known as Weegee (1899-1968) was a successful (and notorious) photojournalist. In addition to contributing an enormous number of images to various American newspapers, he would become famous after the publication of Naked City (1945) and Weegee's People (1946).
Weegee's images of New York City are iconic and influential. Less well-known, however, is the work he focused on during the last twenty years of his life: known as the 'distortions' period. In the late 1940s, Weegee began experimenting with photographic manipulation both in the darkroom and using an array of filters.
Weegee created distortions of a wide range of subjects; celebrities, architecture, circus life, and nudes.
"Ocean Dancer Distortion" is superb example of one of Weegee's images from this era. Restrained and elegant, it has a flavor evocative of Surrealism.
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USA, circa 1950
Gelatin silver print
8.5"H 5.5"W (image)
9”H 6.5"W (sheet)
Stamped photographer’s credit in black ink with additional press stamps in red ink, annotated ‘moma’ in pencil (verso)
Provenance: Acquired from Wilma Wilcox, longtime companion to the artist, New York, 1980s; by descent to the present owner.
Exhibition history: Weegee was included in over 20 exhibitions at the MoMA (NYC) beginning in 1944. Further research will reveal whether this photograph was exhibited (or presented to) the famed museum. On the top verso, in an unknown hand, is written "moma".
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