WEEGEE "AMERICAN GIRL", 1953
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 books that complied his photographs such as Naked City (1945) and Weegee's People (1946),
His photos of New York City are widely known and influential. Less well-known, however, is the work to which he devoted the last twenty years of his life: the 'distortions' period. In the late 1940s, Weegee began experimenting with photographic manipulation. He used several methods to create these “distortions,” including melting copy negatives or augmenting his lens with a kaleidoscope-like filter. His subjects were often film stars (he spent over four years in Hollywood), political leaders, figures of the art world, and anonymous nudes.
Weegee was a true creature of the night and was drawn to all forms of night-life, whether uptown fancy or downtown raw. Some of his most compelling images were taken at our around a famous nightspot on the Bowery called Sammy's.
"American Girl" was included in Weegee's 1953 photobook, "Naked in Hollywood." While he nicknamed Manhattan the 'naked city,' this collection of images and essays focused on the thriving Burlesque scene in Los Angeles in the '50s.
Weegee produced a complex and compelling body of work in the last twenty years of his life. This artwork and the photographs made during this period cement Weegee's position as one of the unique figures in 20th-century art.
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"American Girl (Busy Hostess)"
USA, circa 1953
Gelatin silver print
7.5”H 7.5 (sheet)
Titled in blue ink by the artist
Two hand stamps (verso) and numbered '1862' in pencil (verso)
Provenance: Acquired from Wilma Wilcox, longtime companion to the artist, New York, 1980s; by descent to the present owner.
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