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Indepth Arts News:

2000-04-02 until 2000-07-02
Museum of Modern Art
Oxford, , UK United Kingdom

Weegee (born: Usher Fellig, 1899, Ukraine, formerly Austria, died: 1968, New York). In 1910 he emigrated to the United States, Manhattan's Lower East Side, along with many other Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Renamed Arthur, he was one of the most famous photographers in the States of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, with his pictures featured frequently in The New York Times, Herald Tribune and Life magazine. He was a street photographer, capturing the life of the city - people at work, at play, asleep, and victims of accidents and murder.

Weegee was a photographer who stalked intimacy as well as catastrophe, snapping lovers on the beach, people enjoying the movies and children sleeping on tenement fire escapes. He was a showman tabloid photographer, who coined the phrase 'Weegee The Famous' and actually stamped his photographs in this way. An immigrant himself, he photographed tenement dwellers with an insider's compassion, and confessed that the scenes he was shooting sometimes made him cry.

There is no doubt that the photos which earned him $5 each justly deserve the enduring attention they have subsequently been given. Although the pictures began as tabloid shots to earn a quick 'buck', by the time Weegee put them together in books, (the most famous being 'Naked City'), they represented a fascinating portrait of New York, which ensured him a well-deserved place in the history of photography.

Although, Weegee's work has been seen in a number of group shows, Britain has never benefited from a large-scale retrospective. We are delighted to be bringing Weegee's work to new audiences through this show, as well as to those people in the UK who already know and enjoy his work, but have little opportunity to see it.

The Weegee exhibition at MOMA focuses on work made in New York and Hollywood in the late 30s and early 40s with over 200 photographs from the collection of Hendrick Berinson in Berlin.

Weegee is organised in collaboration with Rupertinum Salzburg, where it was first shown. After Oxford it will then tour to Magazin 3 in Stockholm. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition and is available directly from the Museum of Modern Art Oxford.

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