Join us for an evening with New York Magazine City Editor Christopher Bonanos, celebrating and exploring Weegee’s first publication, Naked City, on the occasion of its 75th anniversary.
Weegee wandered the streets of 1940s New York at night looking for lovers, corpses, and criminals to shoot for tabloid readers who “had to have their daily blood bath and sex potion to go with their breakfast” (as Weegee put it with characteristic flair). His images crackle with visual puns, blinding flashes, and complex compositions; they display the bawdy sensationalism of the tabloids they were shot for and the stylishness of the film noir cinema that took inspiration from them.
With Naked City, his first publication, Weegee gave his images the photobook treatment. Weegee’s eye for surprising juxtapositions and the minutiae of city life is in full force in the images chosen and their inventive, playful sequencing, all narrated in the photographer’s own distinctive voice. Naked City is Weegee at his wisecracking best, and it is here republished in a beautifully printed new edition. Including texts by New York Magazine City Editor Christopher Bonanos and International Center of Photography Weegee specialist Christopher George, Naked City refreshes a photo classic.
Weegee, born Usher Fellig (1899–1968), started working in 1935 as a freelance news photographer specializing in nighttime scenes. He lived opposite police headquarters, installed a police radio in his car, and had a knack for being the first on the scene (supposedly earning his nickname for this nearly psychic tendency). In addition to selling photos to local and national publications, Weegee published them in several books, including Naked City (1945), Weegee’s People (1946) and Naked Hollywood (1953).
Reserve your signed copy of Naked City through ICP’s shop.
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This program starts at five minutes after the hour to allow time for those wishing to participate in the nightly 7 o’clock display of appreciation for front-line workers facing the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Christopher Bonanos is the city editor of New York magazine, where he covers arts and urban affairs. He's the author of Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous, the first biography of Arthur (Weegee) Fellig, which won the National Book Critics Circle award for the best biography of 2018. His previous book was Instant: The Story of Polaroid. He lives in New York City with his wife and their son, who appear in many, many Polaroid photographs.