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Past Exhibition

  • Weegee, [Installation view of "Weegee: Murder Is My Business" at the Photo League, New York], 1941.
    © Weegee/International Center of Photography.
  • Weegee, [Installation view of "Weegee: Murder Is My Business" at the Photo League, New York], 1941.
    © Weegee/International Center of Photography.
  • Weegee, [Installation view of "Weegee: Murder Is My Business" at the Photo League, New York], 1941.
    © Weegee/International Center of Photography.
  • Weegee, [Man writing in comment book for "Weegee: Murder Is My Business" at the Photo League, New York], 1941.
    © Weegee/International Center of Photography.
  • Comment book for Murder Is My Business II, September 7–27, 1941.

Weegee: Murder Is My Business

JANUARY 20–SEPTEMBER 2, 2012

Documentary Truth:
Weegee and the
Photo League

 

Photo Detective
Read All About It!
Naked City

The Photo League was an influential photographic organization established in 1933 as a forum for the teaching and promotion of politically engaged documentary photography. Most of the photographers involved with the League were native New Yorkers or immigrants like Weegee, who sought in their photographs to portray the working­class and ethnic neighborhoods they knew well. Their pictures showed an intimate street­ level view of Lower East Side tenements and Harlem sidewalks teaming with vendors and conversations. Looking away from the skyscrapers and swanky restaurants that typified Manhattan, the photographers of the Photo League documented impoverished enclaves of the Depression­era city in specific, quasi­sociological surveys, like the Harlem Document and the Pitt Street Project.

Though less didactic and political, Weegee's photography clearly fit the mold of the Photo League's urban surveys. His comprehensive nighttime catalogue of lowlife New York included not only murder victims but also partiers and drunks, reckless drivers and rescue workers, firebugs and their prey, petty criminals and cops, and a whole lot of rubberneckers. In August and September 1941, Weegee installed two back­to­back exhibitions in the League's headquarters on East 21st Street. In these shows he first began to associate his daily news photographs into categories and even brief photo essays, forms he would later develop in the newspaper PM and in his book Naked City.

Current Exhibitions

Current Exhibitions

On view through May 4: Capa in Color and What Is a Photograph?