Weegee (American, 1899-1968)

Born Usher Fellig in modern day Poland, Weegee adopted his pseudonym when he began working as a freelance photographer in New York City in the 1930s. He famously followed emergency services and even made use of a police scanner to capture raw scenes of the city, including fires, brawls, car accidents, and even death. One potential origin of the name “Weegee” was his seemingly supernatural ability to arrive at the scene of the crime with his camera, not unlike the predictive powers of Ouija board. Weegee’s high contrast compositions, and brash, unconventional photography helped to communicate the unvarnished nature of the scenes he was capturing.
His work after the 1940s expanded beyond the streets of New York and often featured aspects of show business. Weegee often worked as an uncredited effects consultant, earning a credit as a stills photographer for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. A pair of his portraits showing the humor of comedians Milton Berle and Eddie Cantor are on display in this exhibition.