This group of distorted clown images shows a variety of techniques Weegee used in his photographic manipulations. Weegee constantly drove to push the boundaries of what he could do with photography and, while working on his 1948 film Weegee’s New York, he developed one of his first altered lenses. This was a springboard into many experiments with the photographic image including boiling or melting negatives, warping the image with the use of a mirror, placing materials between the enlarger and the photographic paper, and using a special fragmented lens that Weegee created by attaching a kaleidoscope to his camera’s lens. These iconic clown subjects are particularly dynamic in that the images are distortions of already satirical personas, making both haunting and mystical images of American circus culture.
Weegee, Chuck Burnes, ca. 1955