Weegee, the current exhibition is a collection of more than two hundred of Arthur Fellig’s most famous photographs. As a press photographer in the early 1930’s Fellig virtually lived in his Ford Coupé for a few years listening to the police band on the radio and turning up at the scene of violent crimes often before the police. It was this almost prescient ability which earned him the name Weegee (based on Ouija).
Weegee’s photos range from shocking to humorous, reality with a certain twist. There were times where the blood spilling over the edge of the curb or the white teeth grinning out from a carbonised body made me cringe, whereas a photo of a dead gangster in front of a movie theatre showing ‘The Joy of Living’ made me laugh out loud. Weegee’s photos are more than a press photo; in many of those murder scene photographs it’s more interesting to look at the expressions of the onlookers than at the corpse that dominates the foreground. In one shot at the opera sits a priest with thick round spectacles and because of the quality of the light he seems to be surrounded by pale faced, pebble eyed vampires (or maybe that was my overactive imagination). His portraits of the stars also have an ability to speak volumes, he’s captured
Weegee had an ability to convey a story with each of his photos. There’s no sense of invasion, other then when he’s trying to capture the faces of arrested criminals, and even there he manages to create beautiful shots of hidden faces.