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ARTHUR FELLING (WEEGEE) 1899-1968
"MURDER IS MY BUSINESS"

ARTHUR FELLING (WEEGEE)


ARTHUR FELLING (WEEGEE)

WEEGEE was member of a big and generally poor family, a fact that made him quit school real early and start working in a variety of jobs supporting thus Economically his family. His real name was USHER FELLING born in lemberg or else lvov of Austria the name ARTHUR came up with his arrival to America Specifically to lower east side of New York(1910).In 1913 began as assistant photographer and after he acquired those things he waned,he started working as wandering photographer making portraits.


He didn’t do it for a long time because this job didn’t have a future and enough money. He decided to leave house far from the pressure of his family and be a rebel as all eighteen years old kids’ desire. For quite some time he was wandering homeless making
jobs like dishwasher, baker etch. In 1918 found work in ducket & adler photo studio where he experimented a lot in studio and darkroom ,3 years later and after he was searching for something better he took a job as an assistant in the dark room of the New York
Times as well as in the Worldwide Photo syndicate but also this job would not last for long, he bare it for just couple of years.
In 1924 and until 1935 found himself as a technician in acme newspapers later renamed to united press international his restless spirit could not be held so he abandoned acme newspapers bought a 4x5inch Speed Graphic camera and began reportage based
and around the Manhattan police headquarters this was one of his creative periods having his photos published to daily news, world telegram, herald tribune, sun and elsewhere.

WEEGEE was the first citizen that installed a police radio in his Chevrolet at 1938 shortly made a reputation because he reached first at crime scenes (competing the police) and made pictures that wasn’t posimple until his time. He had chosen a difficult time
to act - the night shift- between 10 in the evening and 5 in the morning; his radio could also broadcast at fire department and ambulances frequency.
WEEGEE as a nickname created as reference of a well known American game of prediction and fortune telling Ouija board ( it was like he knew what would happen and he was there immediately) In 1940 started working for PM newspaper where they
assigned him to make photo sequences with both free subject and not .he had a good sense of self promotion so in every picture he sold was a stamp in the back saying credit photo:weegee the famous. A year later made his first exhibition in New York titled
Weegee: murder is my business and at the same time he began experiments with cinematographic cameras of 16mm . Still however had not come the big breakthrough even if at 1943 he participated in the exhibition of MOMA (museum of modern art)
New York titled action photography giving five pictures. The big recognition came up with the publish of his first book naked city in 1945, an outstanding book with subject crimes, loneliness and the underground life of New York. He doesn’t use a flash unit with
the enormous flashbulbs as he used to but infrared film and a stabilized flash unit for infrared photography. This book and the fame of it ensured WEEGEE a place in vogue magazine but the most important was that Hollywood had interest of buying the copyright
from him in order a movie and a TV series based on his book to be made.

In 1946 his second book was published titled weegee’s people from the same editorial co. (duel,Sloan&Pearce) WEEGEE already stopped this incredible night shifted reportages and devoted in advertisements for magazines like: vogue , holiday , look, furniture.
A year later WEEGEE shall pass the church steps and get married to Margaret Atwood however the family style life didn’t last long, in the end of the same year (1947) WEEGEE moves to Hollywood for the shootings of the film naked city as a technical
advisor .The next few years wanted WEEGEE to deal with technical subjects in films of Hollywood but also making various experiments with photographic and cinematographic cameras, he manufactured various lenses from plastic and adapted them in
front of cameras or in front of the lenses using them like kaleidoscopes .The result was a series of images with the name distortions , his creativity didn’t stop there ,he made an experimental short movie(20min)black and white with 16mm film titled
weegee’s new york witch was added with naked city and both hit the theaters together! After a while the exhibition of MOMA (museum of modern art) New York took place in titled 50 photographers by 50 photographers with WEEGEE participating of
course and also his separation with Margaret Atwood.
A year later (1950) Margaret gave him the divorce and his second experimental movie was a fact ,the title: cocktail party, 5 minites, no sound, black n white and of course 16mm.The experiments continued and in 1952 he abandons Hollywood and
devoted to distortions or else caricatures as he preferred, the people he was shooting Where politicians, actors, and generally people evolved with art. When this series of distortions was finished, another book found the way to bookstores With a provocative
title : naked Hollywood by weeggee the technique was also new and fresh and actually the first time that distortions where published .
Vogue magazine will publish them (distortions) in July’s issue of the next year.

WEEGEE made certain tours and lectures in Europe but also in America until his death at late sixties by diabetes .In 1958 Stanley Kubrick will need His help in the classic b/w film dr. Strangelove this same season worked for the daily mirror and
traveled as always.WEEGEE is an example of tangible artist with passion and talent devoted to his art,until his death in December of ’68 he followed a series of exhibitions :in Russia 1959 (the same time weegee’s creative camera was published),
photokina of Cologne west Germany in1960 with title weegee :caricatures of the great,again to Cologne west Germany 2 years later for photokina.Naturally he attempted his last ‘experiment’ in the movies in 1965. The idiot box was another black
n white 16 mm film, this time with sound and duration of 5 min. ARTHUR FELLING dies in New York residing in west 47th street with Wilma Wilcox his last companion, this city was an extraordinary source of inspiration that given him all of these spark for more than 50 years. He was a peculiar figure an active person till the end. Two more books where published before the sprawl of his: his self biography with title weegee by weegee
in 1962 and weegee‘s creative photography in 1964 .Of course many books are published since then with more important this in the mid 90s titled weegee’s world.
"He will take his camera and ride off in search of new evidence that his city, even in her most drunken and disorderly and
pathetic moments, is beautiful."

William McCleery in Naked City


Distortions and other experiments...
WEEGEE basically had 3 methods creating his (distorted) images and his big experience in the dark room given him the knowledge to do various things: the First method was to put all kinds of different things (plastic or glass made) over the papers that used in the dark room.second method was to boil in water the negatives or put them fire and then printed them immediately or copy them first and then print the negatives (the second ones) at last but not east he adapted various kinds of kaleidoscopes in front of the lenses (both in cinematographic and photographic cameras) or took off the lenses completely from
the cameras and adapt all kinds of plastics and glasses. This way he could interfere with capture in all levels.


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