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Weegee’s Naked City
Text by Christopher Bonanos, Christopher George.
Weegee’s noir classic on the secret life of New York, now in a beautifully printed new edition
Weegee wandered the streets of 1940s New York at night looking for lovers, corpses and criminals to shoot for tabloid readers who “had to have their daily blood bath and sex potion to go with their breakfast” (as Weegee put it with characteristic flair). His images crackle with visual puns, blinding flashes and complex compositions; they display the bawdy sensationalism of the tabloids they were shot for and the stylishness of the film noir cinema that took inspiration from them.
With Naked City, his first publication, Weegee gave his images the photobook treatment. Weegee’s eye for surprising juxtapositions and the minutiae of city life is in full force in the images chosen and their inventive, playful sequencing, all narrated in the photographer’s own distinctive voice. Naked City is Weegee at his wisecracking best, and it is here republished in a beautifully printed new edition. Including texts by New York Magazine City Editor Christopher Bonanos and International Center of Photography Weegee specialist Christopher George, Naked City refreshes a photo classic.
Weegee, born Usher Fellig (1899–1968), started working in 1935 as a freelance news photographer specializing in nighttime scenes. He lived opposite police headquarters, installed a police radio in his car and had a knack for being the first on the scene (supposedly earning his nickname for this nearly psychic tendency). In addition to selling photos to local and national publications, Weegee published them in several books, including Naked City (1945), Weegee’s People (1946) and Naked Hollywood (1953).
Featured image is reproduced from 'Weegee’s Naked City.'
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
New York Magazine
slick new reprint...
A loner and an outlier, Weegee took news snaps of people on the margins – which went on to influence photographers after his death. A new reissue of his classic photobook Naked City reveals the extraordinary power of his images.
Little blasts of burning magnesium provide the incandescent force that reveals the nakedness of his book’s title. Thumb through its amber-toned images of bar drunks, tenement sleepers, lip-locked lovers, paddy wagon–bound criminals, and various other denizens of Gotham’s demimonde and see how such figures are compelled to emerge from the dark only by Weegee’s flash, their visages suddenly and starkly illuminated for posterity.
The renowned Ukrainian photographer’s raucous take on New York was buzzy, alive and totally unexpected. As this book of images first released in 1945 shows, he saw the beauty of the city, even in its most debauched, disorderly moments.
Photographer Weegee would spend his nights roaming the city, documenting its secrets, subcultures and forgotten inhabitants.
It’s history, entertainment and art in one bleeding, naked, lurid and introspective package, the whole range of life visible to one flawed, unflinching artist.
STATUS: Out of stock indefinitely.
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 5/7/2020
Wednesday, May 27, from 7–8 PM, ICP will host New York magazine City Editor Christopher Bonanos via Zoom, celebrating and exploring Weegee’s first publication, Naked City, on the occasion of its 75th anniversary. Scroll down for instructions to purchase tickets and join the Zoom meeting.
continue to blog
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 5/27/2020
Featured image—captioned "Odds and Ends. 'A phone booth is a handy place to make a date'"—is reproduced from Weegee's Naked City, the hot, newly remastered facsimile launching virtually tonight at ICP. It is the subject of Tosh Berman's current video review in a new Youtube series for Artbook | D.A.P. "Weegee is by no means a subtle photographer, or a subtle artist," Berman says. "He's a person who is in your face with his images and that's why he's so powerful… This is not New York as an objective viewpoint; this is Weegee's view of New York City… sort of like a painter painting a portrait of himself… And that's what makes Weegee's Naked City such a unique and beautiful work, of sorts. I use the word 'beautiful' as a very loose term because there are a lot of images of dead bodies, people in fires, lovers in the middle of the night. It's very voyeuristic… The beauty of Weegee is that he had an understanding of his landscape. He knew these people, he understood who they were and what they represented." continue to blog
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 4/21/2020
Featured photograph, shot February 3, 1942, is reproduced from Weegee's Naked City, Damiani and ICP's new, exceptionally well remastered facsimile edition of the crime photographer's classic 1945 photobook. Published in PM Picture News under the headline, "Off Duty Cop Does Duty, Kills Gunman Who Tries Stickup," this particular photograph is captioned, "The boys were playing a little pool and cards in the Spring Arrow Social and Athletic Club, 344 Broome St., near the Bowery last night. Patrolman Eligio Sarro, off duty, went in for a pack of cigarets [sic]. Four men entered. 'This is a stick-up,' the leader muttered. Sarro was a little slow getting his hands ouf of his overcoat pockets. 'Get 'em up,' ordered the leader. Sarro did. One hand held a gun. When he got through firing, the leader was dead.
The usual curious crowd gathered after the gunman, fatally wounded, staggered from the entrance. He was about 22, dark and chunky. Police said he was Andrew Izzo with a record of six arrests." continue to blog