WEEGEE "AERIALISTS" 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.
This black & white photograph is an ideal bridge between Weegee's photojournalism and his later experimentations (with distortions). It is among the earliest distortions Weegee created.
Captured in mid-flight are two costumed aerialists performing a hands-free trick at the circus. Their looping safety ropes and skin contrast against the dark background of the tent. This brief moment of daring motion is distorted to emphasize the looping shapes of the ropes and whirling nature of their movement. Together the two performers seem surrounded by only darkness, ribboning ropes, and alienesque blurred lights.
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 many 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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