Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum
New York in the mid-1950s was a time of detectives, G-men, mobsters, and crime photographers. Weegee (American. b. Austria, 1899-1968) fit this last profile perfectly. Speed Graphic camera in hand, he dashed around the city responding to the police radio, recording accidents, arrests, fires, and murders. This volume in the J. Paul Getty Museum's In Focus series examines approximately fifty of the ninty-five Weegee prints in the collection, surveying his photojournalism as well as additional works that picture life in the Bowery, Greenwich Village, and Harlem. Judith Keller, Associate Curator in the Department of Photographs, provides an introduction to Weegee and commentary on the plates.
The photographer was the subject of a colloquium at the Getty Museum on August 27, 2004, where the author was joined by David Featherstone, Michael Hargraves, Weston Naef, Miles Orvell, Ira Richer, Colin Westerbeck, and Cynthia Young in discussing his life and work. This conversation, captured here in an edited transcript, traces Weegee's transition from crime photography to social documentarian, with special attention paid to his publications, including Naked City (1945). William McCleery, in the foreword to that book, calls Weegee "an Artist" with "his own conception of what constitutes beauty." With the issuance of this In Focus installment, readers can again share in Weegee's conception.