Weegee Wednesday: Out of This World (part 1)

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

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

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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.”

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

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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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