WEEGEE "A TRIP TO MARS", 1943
While many first associate Weegee (aka Arthur Fellig) with New York City crime scenes, perhaps a broader and more consistent theme is that of spectacle and/or urban entertainment.
The origins of his nick-name and reputation date back to the 1930s when he became the first New York City press photographer to obtain permission to install a police radio in his car. Following the city's first responders and documenting their duties, Weegee had unprecedented access to New York’s fires, crimes, debaucheries and of course, murders.
During the first decade of his career these unflinching urban tragedy or crime images paid Weegee's bills, but as he became more financially independent he was more inspired to pursue photographs on his own agenda. While his oeuvre is vast, Weegee was especially drawn to entertainment: nightlife, circuses, the theatre, showgirls, city thrills, the cinema etc.
Some of Weegee's most dynamic and tender (and under-appreciated!) images are related to simply having fun in a crowd. He was not confined to one neighborhood or demographic. He captured action, faces and events from Coney Island to the Bowery and Greenwich Village, to Times Square and Harlem.
In “A Trip To Mars,” Weegee depicts a multi-generational group crowding around a large telescope in Times Square, NYC. This image was taken at the beginning of the 1940s, just a few years before the artist would relocate to Hollywood, CA. In and around Times Square, Weegee’s influences converged.
This image presents a well-dressed group in the perennially dynamic center of New York: Times Square. Not surprisingly this was an ideal zone for Weegee as in the same block a nexus of debauchery, pop-culture figures, and raucous night life was emerging. There was no better place for the photographer, famous for zeroing in on how a variety of spectators could react to the same event or situation. Contrast the expression of anticipation and envy on the young woman's face on the far left to the look of satisfaction and amusement of the elderly lady in the center. This range of figures and emotions, is evocative of Weegee's best New York "crowd" or "entertainment" images.
Weegee was known to print and crop an image from the same negative in several variations. Take a look at a variation of this photograph in the collection of the International Center of Photography here....and again here.
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“A Trip to Mars, Times Square, New York”
Gelatin silver print
USA, circa 1943
Photographer's credit and '47th Street' stamps verso.
9.5"H 7.75"W (work)
16"H 14.5"W (framed)
Detailed condition report upon request.
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