12 April – 29 May 2006
Weegee (Arthur Fellig) documented the nightscape of New York with a zeal and intimacy never seen before or since. With a large-format Speed Graphic camera and piercing flash bulb his photographs recorded tenement infernos, car crashes and gangland executions. Specialising in the night shift between 10pm and 5am, he was famed for being the first to arrive at a crime scene – sometimes even before the police.
Weegee also captured the personal stories of the city’s immigrant and working class communities – their life and death stories played out on the streets of New York. He found washed up singers, late-night voyeurs and teenage murder suspects and photographed them ‘at their most human’, as he put it. His flash-lit photographs pierced the darkness of night, revealing the city in all its sordid glory.
Weegee’s photography defined New York City in the 1930s and 40s and 50s: its streets, bars and tenement blocks. His images of everyday people provide us a glimpse into the unseen. It is not hard to see why this photographer is today credited with ushering in the age of tabloid photography where private stories from the street become tomorrow’s front page splash. Developing film in the boot of his car and delivering his photographs to the newspaper picture desks put him squarely in the realm of press photography, yet after the decades that have passed these photographs have transcended reportage and come to define an age.
HOST gallery is collaborating with Side Gallery, Newcastle to bring this extensive and authoritative collection of Weegee prints to HOST, many of which have not been shown before in London.
The exhibition was shown in conjunction with an exhibition of Juan Medina’s Cruel Sea at HOST.