Weegee, ‘Tiger Jump’, ca. 1955, Caviar20
Weegee, ‘Tiger Jump’, ca. 1955, Caviar20
Weegee, ‘Tiger Jump’, ca. 1955, Caviar20
Weegee, ‘Tiger Jump’, ca. 1955, Caviar20
Weegee, ‘Tiger Jump’, ca. 1955, Caviar20
Weegee, ‘Tiger Jump’, ca. 1955, Caviar20
Weegee, ‘Tiger Jump’, ca. 1955, Caviar20

Photographer. Artist. Photojournalist.

Whichever way you try to categorize Weegee (1899-1968), the more you know about him, the more difficult it is contain him within a single definition.

How does a photographer known for his unflinching dramatic images of New York City transition to creating photographs that celebrate process, experimentation, abstraction and well good old American fun?

He moves to Los Angeles.

In L.A. Weegee's relationship with photography undergoes a radical shift. He begins experimentations in abstraction, distortions and disrupts the photo development process. Most importantly he virtually abandons any affiliation with photojournalism.

This work, "Tiger Jump" is an ideal bridge between his New York works and his non-figural and experimental creations done in California. While it documents an impressive and lively circus animal and the adoring crowd, Weegee plays with the development of the image.

Is this work actually two images (one being the audience, the second the tiger) superimposed?

This is an ideal image of Weegee's mid-century photography; it has a documentary element yet there is a great deal of experimentation and artistry inherent.

From the Collection of Hugh and Suzanne Johnston, Princeton, New Jersey

About Weegee

Considered by some to have invented tabloid photojournalism, Weegee (a.k.a Arthur Fellig) is known for his unflinching images of gangs, crime scenes, and street life in New York City, as well as his snapshots of glamorous Hollywood stars. With a reputation for being the first at the scene of a crime, Fellig cultivated his own mythology, claiming he had psychic abilities to predict crimes, and adopted the name Weegee—linked phonetically to séance-cum-boardgame Ouija—to highlight his predictive abilities. In fact, Weegee would sleep fully clothed with a police radio by his side, and kept a camera, typewriter, and darkroom equipment in the trunk of his car, enabling him to produce images with unrivalled speed. Murders and fires, Weegee once said, were his “best sellers,” his “bread and butter.”

Austrian-American, 1899-1968, Zolochiv, Ukraine, based in New York, New York