Conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal – Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln, now and forever

Geo. F. Nesbitt & Co., [Union Nominations, Campaign poster], 1864, Stefan Lorant Collection

[Union Nominations, Campaign poster], 1864, Stefan Lorant Collection

[“Fear Not Old Abe Is Ours,” Campaign Axe], 1860, Stefan Lorant Collection

Mathew B. Brady, Abraham Lincoln, Washington D.C., Friday, January 8, 1864, Stefan Lorant Collection

Mathew B. Brady, Abraham Lincoln, Washington D.C., Friday, January 8, 1864, Stefan Lorant Collection

Weegee, [Abe Lincoln distortion], ca. 1965

Berenice Abbott (1898-1991), [Lincoln Diner], ca. 1954 (19.2005)

Tichnor Bros., Inc., [Freedom], Stefan Lorant Collection

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Weegee Wednesday: Out of This World (part 1)

Weegee (1899-1968), Naked City, 1945, (2011.75.2)

Weegee (1899-1968), [Untitled], ca. 1957 (5760.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), “The World, All Out of Shape,” ca. 1957 (5779.1993)

Written on a piece of paper attached to the verso are alternate titles:
“1. The world isn’t round it’s crooked.
2. A dentist’s eye tooth view of the world.
3. Take me to your leader.
4. Inside – outside.
5. Out of this world.”

Weegee (1899-1968), “After the Atom Bomb Goes Off,” ca. 1957 (5780.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), “Flying Saucers,” ca. 1957 (5783.1993)

Although, obviously, Weegee was known for his concrete photography, the abstract Weegee is well worth a look-see. Weegee’s interest in abstraction is visible as early as 1945. In Naked City, an unexposed (presumably processed and printed) sheet of film provides the springboard for a series of silly jokes. (Parts of Naked City read more like a stand-up comedy routine than Weegee’s routine nocturnal tour of the usually unseen underbelly of NYC.) Perhaps Weegee’s path to abstraction begins with an unexposed sheet of film and ends with nonrepresentational patterns. Along the way, during an evolution to abstraction, there are images of the usually unseen parts of film, such as sprocket holes, (resembling, and about ten years before, perhaps prescient or avant-avant-garde, the art of some of the “structuralist” filmmakers, like George Landow/Owen Land, etc.). All of the above, like the dust jacket of Naked City proclaims, are “extraordinary psychological documents.”

Weegee Wednesday is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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A Tintype Tuesday: Family Photo Album

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Unidentified Photographer, [Tintype Album], ca. 1880 (1582.1990)

These unbound tintypes were found together in what was probably a family photo album. At this moment, not much is known about the photos and album, except the obvious: the album was well-used and the photos and subjects are exquisitely beautiful…

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Eight Monkeys for the Lunar New Year

W. Eugene Smith (1918-1978), [Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s Mission Hospital. A tamed chimpanzee. Lambaréné, Gabon], 1954 (1542.2005)

Lou Bernstein (1911-2005), Barney and Petunia, Pony Foundation, 1970 (62.1992)

Roman Vishniac (1897-1990), [Untitled], 1943 (RV_16_003_003) (“Bronx Zoo, 1943, Dear Toto, with us Monkeys, business is fine.”) © Mara Vishniac Kohn, courtesy International Center of Photography

Weegee (1899-1968), “Hypo, My Assistant,” ca. 1950 (9934.1993)

Roman Vishniac (1897-1990), [Untitled], 1943 (RV_16_003_001) © Mara Vishniac Kohn, courtesy International Center of Photography

Roman Vishniac (1897-1990), [Untitled], 1943 (RV_16_003_008) © Mara Vishniac Kohn, courtesy International Center of Photography

Roman Vishniac (1897-1990), [Untitled], 1943 (RVB_2005_329_81_004) © Mara Vishniac Kohn, courtesy International Center of Photography

Vu, magazine, periodical
Vu, (“The Monkey and the Magic Box.”), November 13, 1929 (2007.84.8)

Happy New Year!

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Weegee Wednesday: Welcome Back!

Weegee (1899-1968), “All Steamed Up,” May 9, 1940 (2423.1993)

All Steamed Up
This started off as a break in a water main… as all the cameramen left… on a hunch I stuck around alone… suddenly there was a rumble… I was knocked down by an explosion… And also covered by mud which was flying all over…My camera was also covered by mud… I got up… Cleaned the mud off the lense… I had my tripod handy… And made this shot… As I was the only one on the scene I got it exclusive… Next day I had a job to get the mud off my clothes and body… And camera… But it was worth it… My luck in sticking around had got me this shot.

4×5 Speed Graphic
5 1/4 Zeiss Tessar
Agfa Pan Press Film
Open Flash

New York Geyser. Arthur Fellig, free lance news photographer, was taking a picture of the flooded intersection at 56th St. and Seventh Ave. after a water main break this morning, when this tremendous geyser of steam, mud and gas broke through the pavement right behind him, and he was knocked flat on his face… New York World Telegram, May 9, 1940, p. 1

Looking west on West 56th Street across Seventh Avenue. Weegee was standing next to Carnegie Hall (visible at the right edge of the photo). The ornate architectural detailing of the Broadway Tabernacle is seen at top right. The Park Central Hotel is on the left (880 Seventh Avenue).

Weegee (1899-1968), “Intermission,” November 25, 1941 (1060.1993)

I made this at the opening of the Met Opera Season..
I wanted to get something different than the usual
Society celebrities.. noting a lot of men in military
uniforms mingling with the high hats… during intermission
I saw this row of hats in one of the cloak rooms….
So I photographed it…

4/5 Speed Graphic
Zeiss Tessar
Agfa Super Plenacrome Press
Wabbash Press 40
I/200 exp

This season the opera opening was not all high hat; there was a showing of gold braid and a generous turnout of plain khaki. The fancy peaked cap above is a captain’s, the other just a lieutenant’s. PM, Nov. 25, 1941, Vol. II, No. 115, p. 22

Weegee (1899-1968), “Pet Dog Joins Smoke-Poisoned Fireman,” December 24, 1942 (15050.1993)

Fireman getting inhalator treatment, New York City… after being overcome by smoke. ‘Fire dog’ is mascot. [Not written by Weegee.]

Pet Dog Joins Smoke-Poisoned Fireman
Fireman Edward Frank, left, getting oxygen in an ambulance during an Eighth St. fire, was joined by Boots, Engine Co. 14 mascot. The dog wouldn’t leave until Frank was able to walk. PM Photo by WeegeePM, December 24, 1942, Vol. III, No. 163, p. 32

Weegee (1899-1968), Amsterdam Avenue in the 90s, 6 AM or “Siesta,” July 13, 1941 (2267.1993)

I wanted to get a good drunk picture… I was doing
a series for PM on New York street scenes.. But I
dint want just a picture of bums in hallways.. i wanted
something different… after roaming the streets for
6 months.. I came across this scene one Sunday morning
on Amsterdam Ave…

B & J Press camera
Agfa Super Plenacrome Press
Zeiss Tessar
Wabbash Press 40
I/200 Exp.

The Early Hours Bring Their Own Cycle of Events
Amsterdam Ave. in the 90’s. 6 a.m. He’s sleeping it off. There’s a pavement sleeper on almost every block after the bars close. Weegee says, “But why pick a funeral home unless 711 is his lucky number? PM, July 13, 1941, Vol. II, No. 4, p. 62

It is now almost six in the morning…it is still dark…but the church is open…and the early morning worshipers find solace inside…except for this tired Sunday traveler who, a few blocks away finds a resting place underneath the canopy at number 711 Amsterdam Avenue…This avenue is full of saloons, and they are called just that…no fancy foreign names like Cocktail Lounges…So sleep on stranger…no one will bother you…not even the cops…Sunday is a good day for sleeping – so is any other say – when one is tired. Weegee. Naked City. New York: Essential Books, 1945, p. 19

Weegee (1899-1968), [Martha Raye], ca. 1955 (10426.1993)

And we are back…
Speaking of being back, above are the backs of five fascinating of Fellig photos.
(How to read a Weegee photo: The numbers written on the back with pencil, like 5366, 6179, 5376 and 2254 are negative numbers, and were written posthumously. The “Arthur Fellig, 5 Center Market Place, New York City” stamp was used between 1938-45. The “Credit Photo By Weegee” stamp was used on photos made between 1937-45, and was used the most on photos made in 1941-42. The “Please Credit Weegee from Photo-Representatives” stamp was probably stamped in the late 50s, on photos made in the 40s. I love backs. I would enjoy an exhibition of the backs of photos, no fronts, just backs. Often the back of a photo is more interesting than the front, for Weegee, both are often significant and exceptional.)

Weegee Wednesday is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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Weegee Wednesday: “City’s Happiest Mother”

Weegee (1899-1968), “City’s Happiest Mother Cuddles Stolen Daughter,” March 14, 1943 (778.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), PM, March 14, 1941, p. 16

City’s Happiest Mother Cuddles Stolen Daughter
Life will probably never hold a bigger thrill for Mrs. Martino Serdino than she got Saturday morning when police put her stolen baby, Marian, one month old, back in her arms. Search is on for a red-haired woman believed to have taken Marian from her carriage near the baby’s home at 65 W. 104th St. Detectives think the suspect can supply solution to another kidnapping. PM, March 14, 1941, p. 16

Weegee (1899-1968), [Mothers with three babies competing in Methodist Hospital’s fourth annual Perfect Baby contest, Brooklyn], May 14, 1941 (14878.1993)

PM, Photos by Weegee, May 14, 1941, p. 17

Meet Methodist Hospital’s Most Perfect Baby
1. One of these six babies, all of them born last year in the maternity ward of the Methodist Hospital, Sixth Street and Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn, will soon be named the most perfect baby of the year. The nurses are lining them up to be judged by pediatricians as part of the hospital’s fourth annual Perfect Baby Contest yesterday. The first baby on the left is making a grab for the first prize; perhaps it’s an omen. The others don’t seem to be very much interested. Which one of the six do you think should win?

2. The judging is going on. Here’s Barbara Sharpe, of 437 13th St. Brooklyn, born Nov. 27 and Brian N. Frawley, born Dec 26, being held by the mothers. They are the first and second babies from the left in the lineup above. Maybe that’s an omen too.

3. It was Barbara and Brian, No.’s 1 and 2 in the lineup above, who finished in that order. The judging was conducted on the basis of physical fitness, rate of weight increase over birth weight, and general development. Brian, on the right seems to be taking the decision very hard.” PM, May 14, 1941, Vol. I, No. 236, p. 17

Weegee (1899-1968), [Mrs. Marion O’Brien leaving Astoria Police Station after her kidnapped daughter had been returned, New York], March 18, 1943 (907.1993)

Mrs. Marion O’Brien shown leaving the Astoria Police Station yesterday with her 11 month old daughter kidnapped from her home at 605 Second Ave. and found later in Astoria. PM, March 18, 1943, p. 10

Weegee (1899-1968), [Woman holding a baby in front of a laundry], ca. 1940 (1098.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), [Refugees from a fire waiting in front of Clinton Theatre, New York] ca. 1944 (20110.1993)

“Not waiting for the movie theatre [80–82 Clinton Street, between Rivington and Delancey Streets, east side of block] to open…but a refugee from a fire…waiting so the firemen will let her get back into her tenement flat…as soon as it’s safe.” Weegee. Naked City. New York: Essential Books, 1945, p. 70

Weegee (1899-1968), “Brooklyn Fire Rescue, at Tenement House,” ca. 1937 (19788.1993)

Weegee Wednesday is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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Studio Visit: “Death’s Head” or “Then he locks his doors and either paints here where the light is good or he goes below to have fun with his grotesque sculpture.”

Robert Capa (1913-1954), Pablo Picasso in his studio, Paris, September 1944 (3314.1992)
(Death’s Head, Paris, ca. 1941, Man with a Lamb, Paris, 1943 and possibly Cat, Paris, 1941 in the background.)

Robert Capa 937
Robert Capa, [Pablo Picasso in his studio, Paris], September 1944 (3315.1992)
(Woman in a Long Dress, Paris, 1943 and Head of a Warrior, Boisgeloup, 1933.)

Robert Capa, [Pablo Picasso in his studio, Paris], September 1944 (2010.92.2)
(Man with a Lamb, Paris, 1943, and Head of a Woman, Paris, 1941 and Head of a Warrior, Boisgeloup, 1933, Dog, presumably real, Paris, 1944.)

My favorite things in the “staggering” and “once-in-a-lifetime” (NY Times) “Picasso Sculpture” exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art are the photos, by Brassaï, of the sculpture. (“He lived among great jumbles of them from the 1930s on, as attested by the photographs that Brassai took in the artist’s studios between 1932 and 1945. Two dozen Brassaï images line a small gallery here, adding to the show’s ricocheting cross-references and insights.” Roberta Smith, NY Times September 10, 2015.) Although the photos are presented as an appendage, a side dish, or perhaps condiment, I see them as the (vegetarian) meat, the peanut butter and jelly, (the pit of the peach of an exhibition), the entrée of a toothsome exhibition. (Not to be too negative, but I’m positive that the opposite is true for this post, the not insightful, insignificant and ignore-able word pictures are sandwiched between the profound photos.) Every day was a salad day for Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).

This post presents a few more pieces of the photogenic Picasso pie; here are more insightful photos, like the cherries on the top of sundaes, of Picasso posing, clowning, living and petting a (real) dog amongst his sculpture, in his Paris studio, Hôtel de Savoie on 7 rue des Grands Augustins. I prefer the photos of the sculpture because the studio environment is not artificial (and nor perhaps superficial), seeing the sculpture in Picasso’s studio might have been “staggering” and “once-in-a-lifetime.” In the studio the sculpture is the stuff you can live with; they are pictured next to and made from “all kinds of junk;” they are the stuff you can put your arm around and “have fun with.”

LIFE, November 13, 1944, pp. 72-73

New French Art
Picasso Fostered it Under Nazis
…Eight days after the liberation of Paris, LIFE photographer Robert Capa called on the artist. He found him looking much younger than his 67 years. During the occupation his studio had become the rendezvous of anti-Nazi painters, poets, writers, critics and musicians. Under his influence a new crop of young French painters sprang up. Their faces and works are among those shown on the following pages…
Picasso’s upstairs studio overlooking the Latin Quarter is a meeting place for modern-at lovers. Paintings are carelessly stacked against the walls in the cluttered attic room. Here Picasso keeps open house every day from 11 to 1. Then he locks his doors and either paints here where the light is good or he goes below to have fun with his grotesque sculpture…
In his downstairs studio Pablo Picasso stands beside one of his latest figures. To relax from painting, Picasso works on sculpture, fashioning grotesque figures out of wire, metal, ox skulls and all kinds of junk which he likes to collect.
LIFE, November 13, 1944

Robert Capa 937
Robert Capa, Pablo Picasso in his studio, Paris, September 1944 (3316.1992)

Chim (1911-1956), [Picasso’s atelier, Paris], 1937 (2011.76.2)
(Bather, Boisegeloup, 1931.)

Studio Visit is an occasional series exploring a diverse array of working artists’ studios.

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