Shots In the Dark: Photos by Weegee the Famous

“This was a friendly game of Bocci”, ca. 1939 by Weegee (Arthur Fellig); © Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images

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Indianapolis

Museum of Art. The IMA has stuck a sequence of stickers on the floor; follow

them like breadcrumbs and they lead to a gallery space in, of all places, the

European Collection. It's a slightly incongruous location for an exhibition of

work by an artist whose photographs have played a big part in defining 20th

century Americana. If any one person can take credit for being first at the

intersection where loneliness, desire and violence meet something called Noir,

it was the ambulance-chasing Weegee. But then, Usher Fellig — Weegee to

the rest of us — was a Ukrainian immigrant, whose eye for his adopted country

and, in particular, New York City was not only fresh but raw.

It is

the IMA's great good fortune to have acquired a treasure-trove of Weegee's

photographs for its collection and the selection currently on view, while

modest, does a worthwhile job of showing that Weegee's interests extended well

beyond his famous crime scene images.

The

pictures here span the 1940s through 1960 and include shots of people sleeping

in movie theaters, sideshow performers, dancers and crowd scenes, as well as a

selection of deliberately distorted shots. Although Weegee is readily pegged as

a chronicler of visceral America, these pictures remind us that he was also

fascinated by this country's transplanted character. Face after face finds the

old country uprooted, thrown against the wall of something bright and new and

tough.

Through

Jan. 23, 2011; www.imamuseum.org.

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