Tag Archives: 1948

Love in the Time of Weegee

As we continue to inventory and image the Museum’s holdings from the LOOK Magazine archives , we’ve discovered troves of images taken by famous photographers on assignment for the magazine.  Weegee is one of them.

The Museum has a handful of non-LOOK photographs depicting subjects that Weegee is mainly known for: sensational images of crime scenes.  The image below shows the bloodied corpse of Carlo Tresca, a socialist-turned-anarchist and the editor of an anti-Fascist newspaper.   Although Tresca managed to avoid multiple assassination attempts, his life came to an end while crossing Fifth Avenue and 13th Street.  A black Ford containing a squat gunman pulled up beside him and fired, shooting Tresca in the head.

Arthur (Weegee) Fellig (1899-1968). Man shining light on body of Carlo Tresca, New York.1943. Museum of the City of New York. 84.195.1

Weegee also captured police officers aiding an inebriated man.

Arthur (Weegee) Fellig (1899-1968). The Cocktail Hour. 1950. Museum of the City of New York. 84.195.4

Arthur (Weegee) Fellig (1899-1968). Policeman with wrapping paper-covered body of Lewis Sandano, New York. 1940. Museum of the City of New York. 84.195.10

The grim scene above shows the prone body of Lewis Sandano, shot and killed by policemen as he fled with a stolen overcoat.

Weegee shows a softer side in a 1948 series of photographs for LOOK showing soldiers returning from World War II and reuniting with their loved ones.

Arthur (Weegee) Fellig (1899-1968). Penn Station, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2012.4.10720.1

Arthur (Weegee) Fellig (1899-1968). Penn Station, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2012.4.10720.14

Arthur (Weegee) Fellig (1899-1968). Penn Station, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2012.4.10720.16

Arthur (Weegee) Fellig (1899-1968). Penn Station, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2012.4.10720.13

Arthur (Weegee) Fellig (1899-1968). Penn Station, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2012.4.10720.24

His Penn Station images are hopeful and sentimental, and the viewer’s desire to look at them is compelled by something other than the grit of humanity.  In either case, however, Weegee’s photos portray an immense love for the city and care for his subjects whether deceased or living.

“Weegee: Murder Is My Business” is on view through September 2, 2012 at the International Center of Photography. All Weegee photographs used with permission from ICP.

“Painting for fun is catching on furiously among celebrated people”

In an October, 1948 article, LOOK magazine proclaimed, “Painting for fun is catching on furiously among celebrated people. About one hundred Big Names have answered a call for help from the Urban League.  Many have picked up a paintbrush for the first time….”

Joan Crawford, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Joe Louis, and many others donated their original artworks to the cause. Many, including an artistically struggling Joan Crawford who was described in LOOK as “attacking the canvas,”  allowed themselves to be documented during the harrowing creative process.

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.100,101

Although we don’t have images of Lena Horne, Joe Louis, and Frank Sinatra attending the benefit show, we have pictures of the paintings they produced:

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.24

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.4

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.2

This last image begs the question, “Can and did Frank Sinatra paint the saddest clown ever?”

Betsy Bloomingdale - international socialite, style icon, wife to the heir of the Bloomingdale’s fortune, and close confidante of Nancy Reagan – also donated her efforts:

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.108

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.108

Here is “boy-next-door” actor Van Johnson hard at work on a painting:


Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.122

The Museum of the City of New York holds hundreds of outtakes from this shoot, images that never made it to print.  Though they were famous in their time, no one on our cataloging team recognizes the celebrities below. Do you?  Help us identify these individuals in our comments section!

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York.

Circus

Stanley Kubrick(1928-1999). Circus, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.11327

1948 was a good year for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  The “Big Show” traveled from coast to coast with a coterie of performers and animals, encountering raving fans and sold out shows.

On May 25th of that year, LOOK Magazine ran a story about the circus with accompanying photographs by Stanley Kubrick.  He captured the many aspects of the troupe’s life on the road: rehearsing, playing cards, training animals, and their children at play.

Stanley Kubrick(1928-1999). Circus, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.11327.73

The images retain the mysticism of the circus; focusing on portraits of the performers, aero stars (possibly the famous Ming Sing group), and the workers who cherished the livelihood of ‘Big Bertha’.

Stanley Kubrick(1928-1999). Circus, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.11327.136

These images reflect my fascination with circuses from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century.  When I was an undergrad, I noticed that there was an underground revival of the Vaudeville tradition.  There were a few occasions when troupes traveled through our little college town.  These days, it is a romantic notion that people can exist within smaller, untouched pockets of society.  Even so, I like to subscribe to the ideas of those quiet rebellions.

Stanley Kubrick(1928-1999). Circus, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.11327.23

America’s intrigue with the circus has lasted over 200 years.  Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The circus is the only ageless delight that you can buy for money.  Everything else is supposed to be bad for you.  But the circus is good for you.  It’s the only spectacle I know that, while you watch it, gives the quality of a truly happy dream.”

Stanley Kubrick(1928-1999). Circus, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.11327.36

Today, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus still tours extensively.  Although the circus now plays to sold out arenas, and is a large corporation, there are still smaller operations that retain the aesthetic and values of the early 20th century circus.  One of the most noted is the Big Apple Circus, which was recently featured in the series Circus on PBS.  It’s a fantastic series, and quite honestly made me want to hop on the road with them!  Maybe next year….

Stanley Kubrick(1928-1999). Circus, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.11327.39