Right Through the Very Heart of It
June 4 – July 31, 2009

Weegee (1899-1968) was the pseudonym for Arthur Fellig. He was born in 1899 in Poland by the name Usher Fellig, changing his name when he emigrated with his family in New York in 1909, fleeing antisemitism sentiment in Europe. As a young man, he happened upon an advertisement in a mail order camera for a tintype camera and ordered it on a whim. Within several years, Fellig had found a job working in the darkroom for Acme Newspapers. Thrilled by the excitement of the world of journalism, he began to work as a freelance news photographer, gaining a reputation for being the first person on the scene of a crime or accident. He fueled his persona by claiming to have psychic powers that allowed him to predict crimes before they happened and adopted the name Weegee, a phonetic version of Ouija in reference to this ability. In actuality, he would sleep fully clothed with a police radio switched on at his bedside. His camera, typewriter, and even the equipment of a complete darkroom were stowed in the trunk of his car, allowing him to bring photographs and a finished story to his editors with uncanny speed. His best known photographs are those documenting street life in New York City with a candid and unflinching vision. In 1943 the Museum of Modern Art including several of his photographs in an exhibition, and his work was subsequently included in another MoMA show organized by Edward Steichen. Weegee also lectured at the New School and worked on assignment for Life, Vogue, and other publications. He died in 1968.