Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

The Critic | The Fashionable People

with 2 comments

046_008_LBW.jpg

“The Critic” is probably Weegee’s most famous image, and certainly his most widely published. The opening night of the Metropolitan Opera in 1943 was the Diamond Jubilee occasion to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the company. Although Weegee claimed that he “discovered” the shabby woman viewing the opera patrons on the right only after the negative had been developed, the truth was that he staged this photo.

Weegee has been planning this photograph for a while. Weegee’s assistant picked up an intoxicated woman from a bar. As Mrs. George Washington Kavenaugh and Lady Decies — generous benefactors to numerous cultural institutions in New York and Philadelphia — arrived, the assistant released the drunk woman into the vicinity. Weegee claimed he took this picture in a wartime black-out but his incredulous editor refused to use it. Weegee cropped the image and took it to LIFE magazine printed with the caption, “The plain people waited in line for hours to get standing room, listened intently and, as always, showed better musical manners than the people sitting in boxes.” This contrast of images, the rich with the jewels, and the well-mannered “plain people” was exactly what Weegee was striving for in all of his photography. The incongruence of life, between the rich and poor, the victims and the rescued, the murdered and the living – his photographs had the ability to make us all eyewitnesses and voyeurs. The first time the photo appeared with the actual title, “The Critic,” was in Weegee’s own book, The Naked City. The photo became so famous that the book was brought by Hollywood for a movie of the same name.

The photograph was quickly discovered by the Nazis and alleged used as propaganda; underneath the image were the words, “GIs, is this what you’re fighting for?”

(In case you were wondering, the opening opera that night was Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. The horse in the fourth act nearly ran away with the tenor as he bravely sang on).

See Weegee Museum; Smithsonian Magazine.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

June 1, 2009 at 7:19 am

Posted in Culture, Society

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. [...] is often called Mexican Weegee, but unlike Weegee, Metinides did not tune nightly into the police radio; he volunteered with Red Cross and often [...]

  2. [...] în felul ăsta mai citim un pic și despre Weegee, fiindcă ne plac poveștile. Share [...]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,571 other followers

%d bloggers like this: