Under the Third Avenue El, 1943-45, © Weegee / International Center of Photography.
The International Center of Photography (ICP) holds more than 20,000 images by the legendary New York City press photographer, Weegee. Weegee, whose real name was Arthur Felig, was a New York City character unto himself who shot unflinching photographs across all the levels of New York City society. A master of myth building and of sensationalism, Weegee became known for his crime photography and had early access to crime scenes thanks to his relationship with the police force. But his photographs of daily life in the 1930s and ’40s are often what resonate with viewers today – whether of unknowing filmgoers, of families sleeping on fire escapes, or if the gritty Bowery, the subject of an upcoming ICP exhibit, Weegee’s Bowery. This exhibit will launch for the June opening of ICP’s downtown location at 250 Bowery.
A select 39 images from this exhibition will be put on display at the ICP Gallery at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City on May 1st. We have four of these images to share with you today. As the museum describes, the photographs “show the Bowery when it was still New York’s Skid Row. A gathering point for derelicts and down-and-out transients who huddled in the shadow of the Third Avenue elevated railway, it was notorious for its fleabag hotels, flop houses that offered 25-cent-per-night beds, and crowded all-night missions that provided food and shelter to those who could afford neither.”
Weegee, [All night mission, Bowery, New York], 1940, © Weegee / International Center of Photography.
Weegee, U.S. Hotel at 263 Bowery, 1943—45, © Weegee / International Center of Photography.
The exhibition also will include a large collection of photographs from a nightclub and cabaret once located at 267 Bowery called Sammy’s just south of Houston Street. It was both a place where Weegee went to be entertained, and where he entertained – throwing raucous book launch parties for his own work. A short film by Weegee Cocktail Party, which was set in Sammy’s will also be part of the full exhibition at ICP.
Norma Devine is Sammy’s Mae West, 1944, © Weegee / International Center of Photography
Next, check out photographs of Hell’s Kitchen by Weegee.