WEEGEE "CIRCUS HORSE AND MAN" PHOTO, c. 1948
Arthur Felling, better known as Weegee (1899-1968) is America's premiere photojournalist and one of the 20th century's most influential photographers.
Weegee became famous, beyond New York and news circles, after the publication of his photo books Naked City (1945) and Weegee's People (1946).
Weegee's iconic images of New York City crime, disaster and tragedy are known internationally. 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, burnt-out by crime reportage, Weegee began experimenting with image manipulation whether in the darkroom or using custom filters on his camera.
Weegee created distortions of a wide range of subjects; celebrities, architecture, circus life, and nudes.
"Circus Horse with Man" is a fine example of a distortion image. 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 captivating image, the circus horse seems to become two, with its body fused together, legs extending and hooves balancing. The white musculature is in dramatic contrast to dark packed audience. This brief moment of impossible motion and spectacle is distorted and converging in an uncanny centre. In the margins we find a denim-clad male handler, a reminder that there is always unsung labor behind entertainment.
The Circus was a big draw for Weegee as it possessed many of his favorite motifs or themes; spectacle, performance, costume, entertainment...and the experience of witnesses 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)
Stamped verso: Photography by Weegee, From the collection of Suzanne and Hugh Johnston
Detailed condition report by request
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