Tuesday, June 10, 2008

210 Weegee Prints Found

2nd\NE Quadrant The Approval Matrix

Photo: Weegee/International Center of Photography, Courtesy of Indianapolis Museum of Art


... 210 vintage black-and-white photographic prints, were found in 2003 in a zebra-stripe trunk that was bought at a yard sale in Kentucky by two Indiana women who were on their way back from a camping trip. One of the women simply liked the look of the trunk, and when she found old clothes, yellowed papers and pictures inside, she thought about throwing the contents away.

But she took them instead to an Indianapolis rare-documents dealer. And this week the Indianapolis Museum of Art plans to announce that it has acquired a trove of work and correspondence by Weegee, the stogie-smoking New York photographer whose visceral pictures became a template not only for artists like Diane Arbus but also for much of the uncomfortably close tabloid imagery that exists today. The museum described the acquisition as a partial gift and partial purchase from the dealer.

Weegee — whose nickname, according to one story he told, was a transliteration of Ouija, a reference to his almost psychic ability to find a fresh crime scene — was the archetype of a tabloid photographer, working mostly at night in the lower-rent parts of New York City.

“People who work in the daytime are suckers,” he once said. Before the publication of his first book, “Naked City,” made him famous in 1945, he lived in a cheap room near police headquarters and was said to be so accustomed to working on the run that he once developed a picture of a prizefight in a subway motorman’s cab while rushing back to a newspaper office.

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