Weegee’s October Surprise (part 3): For President

Weegee (1899-1968), [“For President, Nixon”], ca. 1961 (12608.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), [“For President, Nixon”], ca. 1961 (11572.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), [“For President, Reagan”], ca. 1968 (11639.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), [“For President, Rockefeller”], ca. 1966 (11699.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), [“For President, Wallace”], ca. 1968 (12616.1993)

Accompanying the caricatures, above, made in the 60s, by a photographer in his 60s (about a decade older than his subjects), of American politicians Richard Nixon (1913-1994), Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), Nelson Rockefeller (1908-1979), George Wallace (1919-1998) is a little-known article, below, by Leo Glassman, from the largely-unknown New York Item newspaper. The out-of-this-world Richard Nixon caricature illustrates the article (perhaps the first publication of this image), along with likenesses of Jerry Lewis, Ed Sullivan, British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan, Big Ben, and of course, Weegee. By 1961, Weegee had been making caricatures, or distortions, for over ten years; and he continued for the remaining seven years of his life.

Weegee is the world’s greatest photographer. He is the most remarkable, the most original, and the most ingenious master of the camera alive today. Who said so? Why, Weegee, of course…

On one point there seems to be no disagreement: between his admirers and his detractors: Weegee is the undisputed master of the grotesque and the macabre. Out of his camera comes marching an endless parade of distorted, twisted, misshapen images, each of which seems to be, if not impossible, at least unreal, perhaps the product of a frenetic imagination. But as we study Weegee’s pictures we come to the conclusion that they represent, especially in their collective effect, a portrait of the human race. This is the way Weegee sees the world, and he certainly sees it differently from the way most of us see it. To him life is one great cosmic joke…

Whether he is shooting the Duke and Duchess of Windsor or some nameless drunk or dope-addict on the Bowery, Weegee’s camera strips away the externals of the human personality, penetrates through the pose and posture, the pretense, the mask beneath which people to hide their inner nakedness, their true self in the vain hope that they can somehow deceive their Maker. It is hard to say if this is something Weegee does con­sciously or subconsciously, but the result is what matters. He has a sure instinct, or intuition. when his scalpel-like lens starts probing beneath the surface in search of what is every true artist’s goal: the truth…

Like his work, Weegee’s personality is completely unconventional. “I have no inhibitions, neither has my camera,” he says. This is true. Had he less freedom from emotional restraints he could hardly have given, what some very properly-bred souls call his irreverent treatment of Eisenhower, Nixon and other noted per­sonages on the contemporary scene…

Despite his world-wide fame and his great achieve­ments Weegee’s way of life remains exactly the same as it was back in the days when he was a struggling, starving beginner in a field where highly trained and educated artists of the camera reigned. He remains indifferent to his clothes and still resides in a cold water flat, which is littered with tens of thousands of his pictures. But those who know him will tell you that beneath his rough exterior there beats a warm, sensitive and kindly heart. In middle age his pudgy, pixyish face is lit up by a pair of glowing somber eyes that bear the marks of total absorption in his great love, photography.

Weegee declares in all seriousness that there is nothing he cannot do with his camera. “Whatever the human mind conceives, I can photograph,” he says. This may sound incredible, but Weegee is incredible, and in this space age of ours his boast should not be brushed aside lightly. I am willing to lay odds that the day one of our astronauts goes up to Mars and brings back the first Martian, a picture of the strange visitor will be in the hands of the newspaper even before he lands. And the credit line will read: Photo by Weegee.

by Leo Glassman, New York Item, June 1, 1961

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

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Weegee’s October Surprise (part 2): LBJ

Weegee (1899-1968), “Draft Johnson for President,” ca. 1968 (3015.1993)

Yesterday this great drawing and fun fact floated down by Twitter stream (while at lunch, of course, LBJ and PB&J):

There’s no evidence that Weegee’s caricatures of LBJ were sent to the White House. Here’s another fun fact: there are more Weegee photos of LBJ (approximately 272) than any other person (Marilyn Monroe might be in second place, with approximately 157 photos). This might reflect Weegee’s antipathy towards LBJ (and MM’s marketability). Weegee didn’t make the original photos; instead he transformed and distorted existing press photos, perhaps playfully and sometimes profoundly. Inspired, in part, by the quantity of LBJ distortions and the above tweet, here are six LBJ caricatures.

Weegee (1899-1968), [Lyndon B. Johnson distortion collage], ca. 1963-68, (7161.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), [Lyndon Baines Johnson (distortion)], ca. 1965-68 (11293.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), “Pres. Johnson,” ca. 1965-68 (11206.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), “Pres. Johnson,” ca. 1965-68 (11205.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), “President Johnson – U.S.A.” ca. 1965-68 (11167.1993)

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

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Hope for the future

Margaret Bourke-White, Shock Brigadier, ca. 1931 (622.1994)

From 1930 through 1932 Margaret Bourke-White visited the U.S.S.R. to document the first Five Year Plan, a series of nationwide centralized plans to transition from an agricultural society to an industrial economy. During several trips she took hundreds of photographs, but selected only 24 images for the portfolio Photographs of the U.S.S.R. 

In the introduction Bourke-White wrote:

Three trips to the Soviet Union taught me it is more than a land of windswept steppes, villages gathered into collective farms, rising factories and growing power dams. Behind the machines stand men and women. […]

In selecting the photographs for this portfolio from the hundreds I have taken, I chose those which show these men and women rather than their machines. Soviet Russia’s story is not only one of the building of industry; it is the story of a people professing steadily toward richer living, a people raising their babies in hygienic nurseries, sending their children to schools in villages where the light of education never penetrated before [and] going to circus and ballet […]

These photographs are brief glimpses into a vast land of tremendous and rapid change. So much happens, and happens so fast, that it is impossible to capture the whole progression on sheets of panchromatic film. Each year that I have visited the Soviet Union I have found it a different country, each year there were new factories, new collective farms, new cities, each year greater achievements, greater hope for the future. […]

Margaret Bourke-White, Chain Belt Movement: Machine Dance, ca. 1931 (620.1994)

Margaret Bourke-White, Col. Hugh L. Cooper: Chief Consulting Engineer at Dnieprostroi, ca. 1931 (630.1994)

Margaret Bourke-White, A Street Car Conductor: Moscow, ca. 1931 (610.1994)

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Matt Black is the 2015 Recipient of the W. Eugene Smith Grant

Matt Black, USA, Tulare, California, Birds, 2014 (2015.38.3)

Tulare, CA. The population is 59,278 and 21.4% live below the poverty level.

Matt Black, USA, York, Pennslyvania, Rainstorm, 2015 (2015.38.8)

York, PA. The population is 43,718 and 37.1% live below the poverty level.

Matt Black, USA, Doña Ana County, New Mexico, Backyard, 2015 (2015.38.6)

Doña Ana County, NM. The population is 209,233 and 27% live below the poverty level.

Matt Black, USA, Buffalo, New York, Shuttered Train Terminal, 2015 (2015.38.11)

Buffalo, NY. The population is 261,310 and 30.7% live below the poverty level.

Tonight is the 37th annual W. Eugene Smith Grant and awards presentation.
More information on the W. Eugene Smith Fund can be found on their website. Fansinaflashbulb blog posts about the W. Eugene Smith Fund can be found by clicking this link.

Matt Black is the 2015 recipientThis is the photographer’s website.

There are 46 million people living in poverty in the U.S. Since the year 2000, the number of people living in communities of ‘concentrated poverty’ has doubled,” Black explains. “The Geography of Poverty combines geo-tagged images with census data to map and document these communities across the U.S.
Source: smithfund.org

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Weegee’s October Surprise

Weegee (1899-1968), [Weegee], ca. 1968 (12602.1993)

Published together for the first time in almost 50 years.
Published for the first time on the Internet.
Available nowhere else but Fansinaflashbulb.
Together, in a few, probably three, blog posts, a Fansinaflashbulb exclusive…

We now present, arranged almost alphabetically, part one of a new series of blog posts, Weegee’s October Surprise, photographs of the 1968 (and one from 1964) Presidential candidates (and a spouse or two) of the United States of America.

Weegee (1899-1968), [Barry Goldwater], ca. 1964 (10804.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), [Hubert H. Humphrey], ca. 1968 (10864.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), [Bobby Kennedy], ca. 1968 (3013.1993)

Weegee (1899-1968), [Jackie Kennedy], ca. 1963 (10271.1993)

Weegee’s last major project was caricatures, distorted photographic portraits, of politicians. Weegee’s energies were focused primarily, although not exclusively, no politician or public figure was safe from Weegee’s darkroom antics, on the 1968 U.S. presidential elections (Wikipedia). Many people have wondered wistfully, what-in-the-world would Weegee make today with the current presidential candidates (and perhaps Photoshop). Some of these photos were exhibited and published, perhaps most significantly, and perhaps slightly psychedelically, in See magazine in October 1968, forty eight years ago this month:

The Candidates
As Seen Through the Three Eyes of Weegee
One of America’s Outstanding Photographers

“I take pictures with my third eye – the inner eye that sees what lies beneath the surface of the subject. What some call a pictorial distortion may, in truth, be the reality. And what we call reality may be a distortion of the truth.” – Weegee
See, October 1968

Weegee (1899-1968), [Eugene McCarthy], ca. 1968 (12606.1993)

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

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The first day of fall

André Kertész, [Vert galant on a fall afternoon, Paris], 1963 (491.1983)


Post by Yvan Sikiaridis, intern, International Center of Photography

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This is a Labor Day blog post

Unidentified Photographer, [Two Domestic Workers], ca. 1875 (72.2004)

Unidentified Photographer, [Two Masons], ca. 1870 (2010.43.3)

Unidentified Photographer, [Blacksmith], ca. 1860 (77.2004)

Fred Weese, [Blacksmith], June 20, 1886 (81.2004)

Unidentified Photographer, [Chemist], ca. 1880 (2010.43.2)

If the first Labor Day “was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City,” according to the Department of Labor’s History of Labor Day webpage, then almost all of the these photos, beautiful and magnetic, of workers, almost all produced by unidentified photographers, were made before the workers received an official day of recognition and a day off.

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of this country. Department of Labor

Qualitatively and quantitatively this quickly (I have so much work to do) prepared (and so little time) display (when is lunch?) of tintypes (the best medium) of workers (the best people), including many males with more-than-abundant facial hair, is not as good as last year’s instant classic Labor Day blog post: On their deathbed, no one ever said: “I wish I spent more time at the office.” (Irrelevantly, I am out to lunch and found a new favorite photo: [Chemist], ca. 1880, now that’s a great photo! Who is that character? Where was that photo made? What is in those beakers? Diabolically Beautiful.)

Interestingly and relevantly as of August 5, 2016, the American unemployment rate was 4.9%. “255,000 jobs were created in July 2016″ according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth increased in professional and business services, health care, and financial activities, while employment in the mining industry continued to decrease” (ncsl.org). And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 7.8 million unemployed persons in America in August, 2016. The average non-farm workweek is 34.3 hours; the average hourly non-farm wage is $25.73. Employment increased in food services and drinking places, social assistance, professional and technical services and health care. (This information is a summary of the Employment Situation Summary, from the US Department of Labor.)

Intriguingly this Labor Day blog post is a creation of a photographer and is dedicated to the creative achievements of workers. It consists of a yearly international tribute to the contributions constituents have made to the curiosity of this country.
More importantly: have many happy, creative, innovative and productive Labor Days and days of labor.

Unidentified Photographer, [Unidentified Photographer], ca. 1875 (2008.57.5)

[The Almost Alchemy of Photography]

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