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Full emotional ranges of Weegee's photographs explored in exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery
Weegee, Self-Portrait in Car, ca. 1944. Photo: Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery.

NEW YORK, NY.- Steven Kasher Gallery presents Weegee: Naked City in conjunction with two major specifically-focused Weegee exhibitions, Weegee: Naked Hollywood at MoCA and Weegee: Murder is My Business at the ICP. With over 125 Weegee prints the gallery explores the full emotional and satirical and aesthetic ranges of Weegee's photographs of New Yorkers and other urbanites. The exhibition features multiple prints from each of Weegee's basic subjects: Song and Dance, Drink, Party, Spectacle, Circus, Love and Sex, Crime and Disaster, Citizens, Celebrity, Art and Weegee Himself. The exhibition also features audio and film recordings of Weegee's voice, one of the great guttural Jewish NewYorkese hybrids of spoken English.

The exhibition takes its cues from the title of Weegee's first book, Naked City, which became a bestseller, made Weegee famous, and transformed him from a journalist into an artist. It was a title with many implications. The city and its citizens exposed. The bare truth. A city that fills you with hungers, lusts, passions. A city ready to frolic. A city that makes you think bad thoughts.

No other photographer has ever portrayed a city with Weegee's level of intimacy, amorality, and complicitness -- and humor. He strips the citizens bare, all of them, poor, rich and middling. There is no looking down or looking up: he is too mixed up in everything he sees, too much part of the shenanigans, too compromised, too desperate for publicity and pay, too much the obsessive Peeping Tom. Ultimately, we feel innocent while looking at Weegee's naked city. Shame and pride are banished as we confront in our own bad and good natures, in a bald light, in the raw.

The influence of Weegee and of Naked City are incalculable. William Klein’s New York and Robert Frank's The Americans are unthinkable without it. Diane Arbus wrote: "He was SO good when he was good. Extraordinary!" Daido Moriyama, greatest of all Japanese street photographers cites Weegee (along with Warhol) as his major influence. Warhol's major subject is the tabloid imagery that Weegee pioneered and epitomized.

Weegee has authored eight books: Naked City (1945.); Weegee’s People (1946.); Naked Hollywood (1953); Weegee’s Secret of Shooting with Photoflash as Told to Mel Harris (1953); Weegee’s Creative Camera (1959); Weegee, by Weegee: An Autobiography (1961); Weegee’s Creative Photography (1964) and The Village (1989).

There have been over 30 monographs on the artist, including the recent publications Naked Hollywood: Weegee in Los Angeles (MoCA, 2011) and forthcoming Weegee: Murder Is My Business (ICP, 2011). Past publications include: Capa, Cornell, and John Coplans. Weegee the Famous (1977); Stettner, Louis. Weegee. (1977); Coplans, John. Weegee: Täter und Opfer: 85 Fotografien. (1978); Nothhelfer, Gabriele. Bildinterpretationen zu Fotografien von Weegee. (1978); Talmey, Allene. Weegee. Photo selection by Marvin Israel (1997); Coplans, John. Extra: Weegee at Wolf. (1980); Arthur Fellig Alias Weegee: New York Photographs, 1935–1950. (1981); Coplans, John. Weegee’s New York: 335 Photographs, 1935–1960. (1982); Martin, Peter. Weegee: Credit Photo by Weegee the Famous. (1984); Laude, André. Weegee. (1989); Porter, Allan. Weegee, 1899–1968. (1991); Marshall, Joseph. Weegee the Famous and the New York Milieu. (1993); Weegee: The Photography of Arthur Fellig (1899–1968). (1995); Barth, Miles. Weegee’s World. (1997); Coplans, John. Weegee: Naked New York. (1997); Zuckriegl, Margit. Weegee’s Story: From the Berinson Collection. (1999); Purcell, Kerry William. Weegee. (2004); Keller, Judith. Weegee: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum. (2005) plus many more.

Weegee’s photography can be found in scores of museums and private collections worldwide. Weegee’s work currently resides in the permanent collections of J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Modern Art, Oxford; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; International Center of Photography, New York and more.

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