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Weegee
Playa de Coney Island, 1940. © Weegee, International Center of Photography. Cortesía Colección M.+M. Auer

Weegee by Weegee

Presentation of Weegee, the celebrated chronicler of New York's darkest 1930s and 40s

The Weegee exhibition, produced by Foto Colectania and Banc Sabadell Foundation, brings together over one hundred photographs from one of the best photography collections in the world, M. + M. Auer from Switzerland, in a careful selection structured around Weegee's books and press publications.

In the New York convulsion of the 30s and 40s, Weegee was a freelance graphic reporter who published in all the major newspapers and who turned crime into spectacle. Always alert, he carried in his car a radio tuned to the frequency of the police that allowed him to arrive the first to the scene of the crime. His technique, with hard backlights, gave the photos an aura of verismo and drama that continues to impact the viewer.

In his biography, Weegee explains: "My car became my home. It was a two-seater, with an extra large trunk. I saved everything there, an extra camera, flashlight bulbs, a typewriter, firefighter boots, cigar boxes, salami, infrared film to shoot in the dark, a change of underwear, uniforms, costumes and extra shoes and socks. (...) Since then I was no longer attached to the teletype of the police headquarters. I had wings. I no longer had to wait for the crime to come to me; I could go after him. Police radio was my way of life. My camera... my life and my love... it was my Aladdin lamp."

The exhibition presents a careful selection of his work, showing images that range from crimes, fires or accidents to scenes of social and popular events, such as the conglomerations at Coney Island beaches or other leisure places of the New Yorkers of the time. Weegee could photograph a corpse, but also a masked ball or a solitary child; there is darkness in his photographs, but also tenderness. Nevertheless, one of the unique features of the exhibition is the display of original materials. Along with photographs by Weegee, the show will exhibit original materials such as newspapers and magazines in which Weegee's photographs were published, like the original edition of "Naked City", which was published in 1945 and immediately become a best seller.

Weegee, a pseudonym for Arthur Fellig, had a hazardous life. He easily handled the police and the mafia, and was always aware of the quality of his work, maybe that's why he signed all his photos as "Weegee The Famous". His adventures and his nonchalant manners inspired black movies such as "The Public Eye" (Howard Franklin, 1992), "L.A. Confidential"(Curtis Hanson, 1997),"Road to Perdition"(Sam Mendes, 2002) and "Nightcrawler" (Dan Gilroy, 2014).

Almost a century after his first photographs, Weegee's work continues to excite both the public and the critic, thanks to his harsh and dramatic style, that he managed to reflect the society and nightlife of a city he knew better than anyone else.