WEEGEE "TENEMENT SLEEPING", 1940
Weegee arrived in New York City in 1909. While his father had been working in America for a period prior to his arrival, the family was finally reunited...and typical of many poor immigrant families they moved to a tenement building on the Lower East Side.
Throughout his career, Weegee photographed scenes of downtown NYC; especially of his old neighborhood. In addition to his famed scenes of crime and urban disaster he also captured a wide range of images that depicted daily life, whether he was on assignment or not.
In “Tenement Sleeping,” a man is nestled onto a mattress, asleep on a lower east side fire escape. This small balcony would have proved respite from the sticky New York summer. The photographer captured, but did not awaken, the sleeping resident.
One of Weegee's most famous L.E.S. images is of a pile of children similarly asleep on fire escape. This work is an interesting variation on the theme. While scholars have revealed that the image of children was staged, it leads to the question of whether this man was found sleeping or invited to pose.
"Tenement Sleeping" was included in the J. Paul Getty Museum’s 2005-2006 retrospective of the artist and is held in its permanent collection.
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Gelatin silver print
USA, c. 1940
Printed circa 1950
13"H 10.5"W (work)
21"H 17.5" (framed)
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