Legendary photographer Weegee has a special print available that he probably worked on himself.
We understand that cameras themselves are cool. But so too is what photographers make with them. And a pretty fascinating print from Weegee has appeared on eBay. The photo seems to be a print from his distortions series. We reported on a similar print he did of Marilyn Monroe a little while back. From what it seems, this could be one of the rare prints that WeeGee made himself.
Of course, I wondered whether or not this piece is an authentic print. As yet, I’m still 100% convinced, but I’m 98% there. Part of that is because it’s being sold by a very reputable source: apr57. They’re the appraiser for the Wall Street Journal and several other big companies. They’ve even earned recommendations from Time Out New York. They’re located on 57th Street in Manhattan and have been doing this for over 100 years. Let’s be honest; they’ve got a solid reputation.
The listing states that it’s been appraised for $20,000. But it’s being sold online for just around $12,000 for the 8×10 print. Here’s an important detail of the description:
This original vintage inscribed Silver Gelatin Print by Weegee is a wonderful work from his “Distortions” series. The inscription on the back of “Film by Weegee” appears to be done by Weegee himself and therefore it substantially increases the collectibility, genuineness, authenticity, and value of this item. “Distortions” is a highly-sought-after series of photographs in which Weegee took photographs of celebrities and other well-known figures and distorted their faces through the use of prisms. The distortions were done in such a way that the subjects were still recognizable, toeing the line between reverence and irreverence. The subject of this photograph is unknown. The piece is in overall very fine condition. There is a small crease in the top right corner, but the printed area is unaffected.
We’re fascinated by this piece. But it’s a major deviation from the rest of the Distortions series. I’ve been interviewing photographers for years and can always tell when there is consistency. Maybe this image didn’t make it into the final edit from WeeGee. But all the other images have very telling warping effects and other similarities to them. Some of the photos have other oddities. But this one photo seems to be a major deviation from the rest. I’m willing to accept that it was part of the series, but not one that curators typically put in their galleries. Indeed, as Vice shows, WeeGee’s Distortions got very weird.
WeeGee is a famous, now deceased, photographer who operated around NYC. He was known for working with the police and heavily using flash. But he’s also credited as a fantastic creative photographer overall. He embraced things that weren’t the norm and made them into cool photos. The image being auctioned off is a testament to his work and character. Today, someone would easily do this in Photoshop. But back then, it needed to be cloned and burned onto paper. There was no Control + F key, either. So the photo editor needed to have a lot of foresight and an idea of what they wanted. That, of course, helps make this print even more of a marvelous purchase.