discover the remarkable photo exhibition of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation

discover the remarkable photo exhibition of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation

The Henri-Cartier-Bresson Foundation, in Paris, is exhibiting until May 19 the work of photojournalist Weegee, from his iconic images to his little-known photos never presented in France.

Tragic and comical. The lens of Weegee (born Ascher Fellig) captures the darkness of a New York barely emerging from prohibition, its violence, its accidents, its fires, its poverty too. Until dawn, crisscrossing the streets, block after block, tuned to the police frequency, the photojournalist arrives among the first at the scene of the crimes. “Images of murders and fires were the most popular. They were my livelihood,” confided Weegee, who was trying to make a living. When he started, in 1935, the tabloids gained popularity. Quickly, Weegee made a name for himself thanks to his framing including colleagues or onlookers stopping in front of these murders and other devastating flames. These gave his work a unique dimension where criticism pointed out. Indeed, his images return the reader of the newspaper to his own voyeurism, in the same way as these curious people gathered on the sidewalks.

Change of direction

Tired of blood, Weegee made a change in 1948. Headed for the glitter of Hollywood, California. If festive images already printed his films, the New Yorker now immortalizes cinema stars, politicians… Photos that he distorts, fakes, manipulates in the laboratory, to the point of caricature. A job that he continued for three years before returning to New York to take advantage of his fame. As diametrically opposed as his two photographic registers are – one documentary made on the spot, and the other distorted after the shot – they nourish, according to recent readings of the entirety of Weegee's work, the same speech: the denunciation of an American entertainment society then emerging, stuffing itself with drama as with rhinestones.

Weegee in 5 dates

  • June 12, 1899 : Birth of Ascher (Usher) Fellig in Galicia (today in western Ukraine).
  • 1910 : Arrival in the United States, where his father had emigrated. Lives in a poor neighborhood in New York.
  • 1935 : Launch of his activity as a photojournalist, after having produced photo prints.
  • Spring 1948 : Departure for Hollywood (California), where he developed photographic special effects techniques. He will return in 1951.
  • December 26, 1968 : Death in New York.

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