WEEGEE "CIRCUS DISTORTION" PHOTO, c. 1948
Arthur Felling, better known as Weegee (1899-1968) is America's premiere photojournalist and one of the last century's most influential photographers.
He would become famous, beyond New York and news circles, after the publication of his photo books Naked City (1945) and Weegee's People (1946).
Weegee's images of New York City crime, disaster and tragedy are iconic and highly 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 on his camera.
Weegee created distortions of a wide range of subjects; celebrities, architecture, circus life, and nudes.
In this evocative distortion, the photograph has been split directly down the centre and reflected. It's impossible to tell which side of the image is the original and which side is the reflection.
In this ambiguous image, a costumed circus aerialist performs a hands-free trick. His looping safety rope and bright white tights contrast the dark background that suggests a packed audience. This brief moment of daring motion is distorted into an almost perfectly symmetrical image, with limbs and perspective lines converging at the centre for an almost Op Art effect.
The Circus was a big draw for Weegee as it possessed many of the themes or motifs that intrigued him throughout his career; spectacle, performance, costume, entertainment...and the experience of watching something thrilling in a crowd.
Weegee’s photography can be found in scores of museums and private collections worldwide: the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Modern Art, Oxford; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; International Center of Photography, New York and more.
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USA, circa 1948
Gelatin silver print
9.5"H 7.5"W (image visible)
14.75"H 12.75"W (framed)
Framed with museum glass
Stamped verso: Photography by Weegee,
From the collection of Suzanne and Hugh Johnston
Detailed condition report by request
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