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Celebrating the Negative : Weegee by John Loengard


Arthur Fellig, known as Weegee, waited on the sidewalk in 1943 as Mrs. George W. Kavanaugh (third person from the right) arrived for the start of the 60th Season of New York City’s Metropolitan Opera. Mrs. Kavanaugh noted it was wartime and apologized for wearing last year’s jewels.

Weegee cropped the three figures on the left out of prints. Cropping the negative was standard procedure for the Speed-Graphic-wielding newspaper photographers of the 20th century. The 20 square inches of film area in a 4 x 5 inch negative (compared to a 35 mm negative’s 1.5 square inch) meant enlargement of a piece of the picture did not necessarily weaken the image.

Facial expression is difficult to read in the negative, but Wegee’s photograph is titled, “The Critic” because of the expression of the shabbily dressed woman on the far right..

Weegee died in 1968. He left his negatives to his good friend Wilma Wilcox, who gave them to the International Center of Photography on her death in 1993.

John Loengard, Celebrating the Negative is available to museums as a touring exhibition from Curatorial Assistance.

Celebrating the Negative
by John Loengard
Release in 1994
Published by Arcade Publishing

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