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Uncanny worlds and bad dreams: The strange, surreal, and macabre paintings of Jolene Lai
07.19.2017
10:12 am
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Jolene Lai was working as a designer for an advertising company when a conversation with an artist friend made her realize her true vocation:

I had a moment of ‘epiphany’. I realized I missed the feel of a paintbrush, the smell of oils and turps, and the excitement of creating short stories through them. But trying to take a detour at 30 seemed more challenging, even in my own perspective. I had to work on building enough courage and confidence to convince not just myself, but the people around me that a career as an artist is really what I am meant for.

Lots of significant events happened from then that would shape the route to where I am today. But the root of it all was that conversation with my friend that changed my pathway and helped me discover what I really wanted to do in life.

Finding what we really want to do with our lives and then doing it, is one of the great blessings of existence. Most of us never get that far. Jolene Lai has worked damned hard to ensure she makes a success of her chosen career. She keeps to an intensive schedule that sees her clock-on early morning, and clock-off late every night. Jolene’s discipline and hard work have paid off. She has produced a sizeable catalog of quite awesome artworks which have been exhibited in LA and in Singapore to considerable acclaim.

Lai paints beautifully detailed canvases in oil and watercolor of strange, unsettling, and often grotesque scenes culled from childhood memory, Chinese myth, and lots of imagination. Sometimes she ties-in her latest topics of interest—anime, Edward Hopper, interior design, or maybe food. The results are like beautifully composed stills from some strange dream movie from which we can recognize certain details as true but are left unsure as to their meaning. The beauty and intricacy of the paintings often belie their bizarre and disquieting content, which ultimately serves to compel the viewer to look again.

See more work here, or follow Jolene Lai on Instagram and Facebook.
 
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More of Jolene Lai’s strange and beautiful paintings, after the jump….
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.19.2017
10:12 am
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Mondo mayhem: Sex, blood and horror, the art of Enzo Sciotti
07.18.2017
10:14 am
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An arresting image by artist Enzo Sciotti for the 1984 film ‘Heavenly Bodies’ (billed in Italy as ‘Scratch Dance’).
 
During the 1970s and 1980s, Italian artist Enzo Sciotti created hand-painted artwork associated with the films of many influential directors who hailed from his home country, such as Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and Lamberto Bava, the son of the great Mario Bava. 

Born in Rome in 1944, Sciotti got started drawing professionally at a very young age—fifteen according to his online biography. Sciotti’s bio also states that he has been responsible for over three thousand movies posters. Sciotti has lent his talent to album artwork as well—specifically the cover of the stellar soundtrack for Phenomena, Dario Argento’s 1985 film starring Donald Pleasence and a fifteen-year-old Jennifer Connelly.

Most of what follows showcase blood and nudity, which means it’s NSFW.
 

The artwork for the 1986 film by Lamberto Bava, ‘Midnight Killer’ by Enzo Sciotti.
 

The album artwork for the soundtrack to ‘Phenomena.’
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.18.2017
10:14 am
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When a glimpse of stocking was something shocking: Vintage erotic postcards of 1920’s flappers
07.17.2017
09:24 am
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Before the First World War, postcards were the Twitter of the day. They were used to share personal news, arrange appointments, or pass on messages of love—though thankfully, there was very little of the trolling we all have to endure today. There was also a small but highly profitable cottage industry for erotic postcards which increased dramatically during the War years. This was one way by which governments and generals thought they could keep the boys on the frontline happy by giving them some reason for fighting—saving the sexy young maidens of France from the hairy, uncouth hands of the Hun, and so forth. Millions of such cards were produced by the French during the War, which led to the moniker “French postcards” being applied to all erotic postcards whether they were made in France or not.

After the War, these naughty French postcard were still popular. This popularity offered some young women some independence and an easy way to make a quick franc or three. There is a genuine innocence about these photographs of young women flashing a white thigh above stocking top, or posing nude like a Greek goddesses, or playacting as a saucy French maid, which make them far more erotic than the bare-all, gynecological pictures of today’s cynical world of porn.
 
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More dirty French postcards, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.17.2017
09:24 am
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Artists pay homage to the legendary artwork of Heavy Metal magazine
07.14.2017
03:07 pm
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‘Metal Head’ by artist Brian Viveros. One of over 80 pieces that you can see at the Heavy Metal 40th Anniversary show at the Copro Gallery in Santa Monica, California starting on Saturday
 
A show featuring works inspired by 40 years of artwork from Heavy Metal Magazine kicks off this Saturday, July 15th at the Copro Gallery in Santa Monica, California. The massive show features more than 80 artists and their collective takes on the mythical artwork that has graced the pages of the magical and legendary magazine which put out its very first issue in April of 1977.

In addition to art inspired by of Heavy Metal’s artistic contributors, such as Boris Vallejo, Luis Royo, H.R. Giger and Spanish illustrator Esteban Maroto, there will also be lots of other eye candy to ogle such as animated cells from the 1981 film Heavy Metal, assorted collectibles related to the magazine and live body painting. The show itself features contributions from a dazzling array of incredibly talented modern masters that include Brian Viveros, Chet Zar, Ron English, and Travis Louie, as well a few of their predecessors, most notably the great French artist and cartoonist Jean Henri Gaston Giraud, better known as Moebius. I’ll say this much—if I were anywhere near Santa Monica during this event, I would already be waiting outside with my face pressed against the door of the gallery in anticipation.

Below, an extensive selection of some pieces from the upcoming show below which are all for sale for those of us with deep enough pockets and a great appreciation for the foundational artwork that Heavy Metal helped put on the map. Like the magazine itself, much of what follows is NSFW.
 

“Bad Blood” by Matthew Bone.
 

“Heavy Metal Naga” by the great Shawn Barber.
 

“The Artist” by Ryan Brown.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.14.2017
03:07 pm
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Ghost Rider still alive after Suicide: ‘IT’ is the HEAVY Alan Vega release from beyond the grave!
07.14.2017
09:57 am
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Alan Vega the solo artist and lead singer of the groundbreaking synthpunk duo Suicide who passed from this mortal plane almost exactly one year ago (7/16/16) is not done with us just yet and this is the best news I’ve heard in ages…

My own personal experiences and encounters with Alan Vega are varied, and over many decades, sometimes very near and sometimes far away, but always intense. Not like scary movie intense but like escaping death intense. As an innocent 16-year-old going to Max’s Kansas City in 1976 determined to get in “this time,” and being very under age, everything lined up right: my parents went out for the night and I got a friend from school to go with me, but the bands I knew about (Ramones, etc.) weren’t playing but anything would have been good.

Back then every band played two sets each night. We got there right on time for the early show and saw a band called The Cramps playing their third gig ever! (That is a major revelation I have gone into elsewhere many times). When Suicide hit the stage it was not packed but pretty crowded. I had been very into weird music for many of my young years but nothing on earth—I repeat, nothing—could prepare me for what I was about to go through. I had seen “bands.” And for God’s sake I had just seen The Cramps for the first time, but two guys come up, NO guitar, NO bass, NO drums and SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEGH#%&*#!$#@ PLAY THE LOUDEST THING I HAD EVER HEARD!! 

I had never seen a band with “no” instruments and they were louder than any band WITH instruments. I had never been literally scared of music and people I paid to “have fun” watching. By this point the singer was bleeding from pummeling his own face with his microphone. And it just got louder and louder. Vega would lean into the audience and people would run to the bar! I was mesmerized. I was glued to my seat. I went into another galaxy and I was changed forever. My friend was long gone, outside I found out, and he’d been outside since thirty seconds after they’d come onstage. This in itself was the dividing line between myself and the rest of my entire world as I knew it. The deciding factor that I needed to exist in THIS world and not the world I had known up until this point. This was a gigantic psychotic green light that I had never known existed but was waiting for my entire young life.

Between the Cramps and Suicide I had found my heart and soul. And I wanted more. And I have never for one moment stopped searching for that something “more.”
 

 
By the 1990s I had followed this path for quite a while and was familiar with and friends with many of these people, and was one of them. When my band D Generation was recording our second LP No Lunch at Electric Lady studio with producer Ric Ocasek, chosen much for the fact that he could work with Suicide and The Bad Brains (musically AND personally), the idea came up for us to have Alan Vega pay a visit. Once there, we thought he’d be tickled about a song we had just finished called Frankie about a tough cross-dressing punk type, a sort of homage to his Frankie Teardrop. Next thing you know he is in the studio recording a vocal. All I can think about was that first life changing night at Max’s Kansas City which was then twenty years prior (now forty one) as I watch and listen to him give Ric and the engineer instructions to take all the music out except the kick drum, the bass (yay!) and Jesse Malin’s vocal. He then went to work squirming and shrieking and saying all kinds of wild heavy stuff. It was truly a privilege to be a part of that.
 
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The author with Alan Vega
 
After that we knew each other better. Jesse brought him to meet Bruce Springsteen and Alan and Jesse became close. Alan once did a set doing the first Suicide LP live at Jesse’s club Bowery Electric. Jesse’s sideman Derek Cruz (with my help or at my suggestion I believe) sampled all the sounds from the LP and played the sounds on pads so it sounded exactly like the record! Amazing! But not exactly as planned as the sound man didn’t know the record and since I did (and I knew the soundman) I ran into the sound booth and asked him where the echo was and to turn it on and I did the echo frenzy on Alan’s vocal just like the record throughout the show. His beautiful wife Liz Lamere thanked me, as did audience members. That was a perfect experience to bring my life as far as Alan Vega is concerned to a perfect circle.

Until now.
 
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Photo by Bob Gruen
 
Almost a year to the day after Alan Vega passed he has sent us all a massive electronic slap in the face. And like the first time I was exposed to his music, it is harsh, exciting and necessary. Electronic meditations on sorrow, loss and darkness from the Suicide king. The new album, titled IT hits the streets on July 14th and is truly a message from beyond. IT can be downloaded digitally and bought on vinyl, with a 2-LP gatefold including unpublished drawings, writings, and photos by Vega. The digital album is now available for pre-order here, and the standard vinyl can be pre-ordered via Amazon.com here. A special limited release of IT will also be available on transparent orange vinyl, sold exclusively at select indie retail locations, the list of which will soon be announced.

Leading up to the one-year anniversary of Vega’s passing, New York City will host a series of events deemed “Alan Vega Week” including exhibits and performances in Alan’s memory. On June 30th, INVISIBLE-EXPORTS opened an exhibition featuring Vega’s historic light sculptures, as well as his final series of work including acrylic and graphite paintings. Depictions of a single mythical man, they also form, together, a shifting, serial self-portrait. Additionally, on July 18th, Jeffrey Deitch will open “Dream Baby Dream,” a memorial exhibition commemorating Vega’s life and work, including video projections of historic performances by Suicide, and a selection of Vega’s sculptures and works on paper from the 1960s to his last works in 2016. Stay tuned for additional memorial events around “Alan Vega Week” to be announced.
 
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The album opens with its first single and video called Dead To Me. “Life is no joke/It’s days and nights-pure evil/Heyyyyy, sometimes the skanks save souls/DTM-dead to me.” Over a pounding atonal electronic repetitive groove, it is relentless, bleak and very heavy. Spitting out lines of endtimes doom and truth, it’s a tough pill to swallow. But surely one worth forcing down.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Howie Pyro
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07.14.2017
09:57 am
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Bieber cums, Oprah shits & the Cockmuncher gobbles in Joe Becker’s bizarre pop culture paintings
07.13.2017
11:36 am
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‘Justin Bieber says “I love you so much I fucking cum hearts”.’
 
Joe Becker is a Canadian artist who paints big bold canvases filled with the rich detritus of pop culture. Hellbound TV hosts, masturbating pop icons, cadaverous singers, cretinous comic book superheroes, ravenous cuddly toys, and deranged cartoon characters jostle for attention. His cast of Bosch-like figures can be seen performing strange, perverse, and often comic rituals which may once have had some sacred meaning but are now just empty responses against an ever-encroaching chaos. Others are full frame portraits of lovable furry creatures who look half-bemused by the attention they’re receiving as though such vanity was solely reserved for humans.

But Becker isn’t being cynical in his use of pop culture iconography from the ‘80s and ‘90s. These are characters to which he has a “generally honest and sincere” connection.

There is a sincere affection for some of the pop characters I paint. As a kid I was a weird little shit, I once individually drew every character from He-man, I then coloured them and then cut them out and placed each one in a heart shaped box, I still have it. Some people think that my paintings are fucked up or weird but I think the stuff I did as a kid is truly bizarre.

Oddly, some people find his work offensive. In particular, his paintings aimed at the cult of celebrity—Bieber cumming love hearts, Oprah taking a shit, Cobain after his suicide. These paintings may be “cheap shots” but Becker is serious in his “loathing” for the vacuous adulation of such “celebrities.”

I highly doubt frenzied 13 or 14 year old Biebettes or dippy North American white suburban woman who worship Lord Oprah are into emerging contemporary Canadian painters, so those two demographics will likely not be exposed to my work, but if they ever were and they were enraged by my work then fuck them. I have never received hate mail yet, and if I did I would print it out and frame it. What kind of an asshole gets mad at a static, silent work of art anyway?

Becker’s powerful, complex, and darkly comic canvases have been exhibited all across the globe with a selection of respected collectors snapping up his work as soon as its on the market. Understandable, as Becker is mining a rich seam of pop culture icons to create his challenging, beautiful, and subversive art.
 
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‘Kurt Cobain.’
 
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‘Cockmuncher.’
 
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‘Oprah.’
 
More brilliantly rude paintings by Joe Becker, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.13.2017
11:36 am
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H.R. Giger body paints Debbie Harry for album cover and video—behind the scenes
07.12.2017
01:57 pm
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In the spring of 1980, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie met H.R. Giger at a party at the Hansen Gallery in New York City, which was showing an exhibit of Giger’s Alien paintings. Giger was actually on his way back from Los Angeles, where he had just received an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in recognition of his groundbreaking work on the movie. Giger later gave the following account of the meeting:
 

There I was introduced to a very beautiful woman, Debbie Harry, the singer of the group Blondie, and her boyfriend, Chris Stein. They were apparently excited about my work and asked me whether I would be prepared to design the cover of the new Debbie Harry album. I found both of them immediately likeable; so I readily agreed and was greatly pleased to be allowed to create something for such an attractive woman, although I had never heard anything from the group. This was due to the fact that I was more interested in jazz.

 
It was a heady moment for both sides of the equation. Alien had launched Giger to a whole new level of fame, while Blondie were still riding the crest of the new wave they had done so much to define; their fourth album Eat to the Beat had come out a few months before. But Harry and Stein were getting tired of being in Blondie.

Harry and Giger don’t seem particularly similar as artists, but as is well known, they did end up collaborating on the album cover for Harry’s first solo album KooKoo, which came out in 1981. KooKoo, unfortunately, was not a rousing success, and much of the reason for the disappointing outcome was the unsettling cover art, which showed the face of a regal and unmistakably Giger-esque Harry impaled by four large spikes. Here is a picture of Giger with the early concept art:
 

 
Giger said that the idea of the metal spikes derived from a medical procedure he had recently undergone: “Since I had just had an acupuncture treatment from my friend and doctor, Paul Tobler, the idea of the four needles came to me, in which I saw symbols of the four elements, to be combined with her face. I submitted the suggestions by phone to Debbie and Chris. They liked the idea and, in addition, they commissioned me to make two videoclips (music videos) of the best songs.”

The image was disturbing enough that advertisements featuring the image were banned by British Rail, and they weren’t the only ones. One might say that the public really didn’t want the era’s reigning sultry pop-disco queen to enter the scary and forbidding world of Giger’s art, but Harry and Stein have never exactly been afraid to take a risk, so the die was cast on that, for better or for worse.
 

 
After the album came out, Stein and Harry penned an article for Heavy Metal (which was already intimately familiar with Giger’s work) about working with the artist. In the piece, which is called “Strange Encounters of the Swiss Kind” and is coauthored by Harry and Stein, the following observations are registered:
 

Giger is an industrial designer, which is very apparent to you the moment you step into his home. Even something as alien-looking as his chairs is structurally sound. The Alien creature—with its McLuhanesque quality of being the machine as an extension of the organic—makes sense biologically. The face hugger, with its air sacs, isn’t just decorative. Giger’s work has a subconscious effect: it engenders the fear of being turned into metal. It’s awesome—the work of an ultimate perfectionist, a true obsessive.

 
Much more after the jump….....

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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07.12.2017
01:57 pm
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Beautiful vintage portraits of the last of the traditionally tattooed Māori women
07.12.2017
10:57 am
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Moko is the name for a Māori permanent body marking. It was originally carved with bones creating a scarring on the skin rather than a tattoo made with a needle and ink. Each moko is unique to the wearer. It depicts the story of the wearer’s family, their ancestral tribe, and their position within that group. The moko is created by the Tohunga tā moko. Māori men have moko on their faces, backs, buttocks, and thighs. Women mostly have a moko kauae on their lips, chins, and necks, and occasionally on their foreheads.

In Māori culture:

A moko on the face is the ultimate statement of one’s identity as a Māori. The head is believed to be the most sacred part of the body. To wear the moko on the face is to bear an undeniable declaration of who you are.

After the Brits colonized New Zealand, ta moko declined as a cultural form. This was partly due to the Tohunga Suppression Act of 1907, which outlawed Māori medical practices. As these were closely linked to Māori spiritual and cultural traditions, the Māoris lost much of their culture and became what was termed as a “lost race.” The Act was eventually repealed in 1962.

These photographs of Māori women were taken circa 1900-1910. These were among some of the last women to wear the traditional moko kauae before its resurgence in recent decades.
 
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More beautiful portraits of Māori women, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.12.2017
10:57 am
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Doll Parts: Artist brings Barbie and Ken to life using strippers and porn stars
07.12.2017
09:47 am
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One of photographer Alex Sandwell Kliszynski’s creepy real life Ken dolls.
 
Back in 2008, UK photographer Alex Sandwell Kliszynski somehow came up with the idea to create a series of photos depicting strippers and porn stars as if they were old-fashioned Barbie and Ken dolls. And the results are pretty creepy, to say the very least.

I sadly don’t have much more information on Kliszynski other than these bizarre photoshopped images of his real dolls that are missing their nipples and genitalia. I did manage to track down an article published by Jezebel that cited a quote from Ben Barna, now the Senior Digital Editor over on Nylon, who wrote about Kliszynski’s IRL Barbie dolls during his time with BlackBook magazine:

“When I was younger, playing with Barbie dolls was a big faux-pas. No matter how fascinated I was by their boundlessly bendable legs; you just didn’t do it (even though I did it). Finally, artist Alex Sandwell Kliszynski has created a series of dolls I can play with.”

So on that note, is it still NSFW to look at a photo of man or woman in the nude that is devoid of their private party-parts? I’m here to tell you that, yes, yes it is. Very much so. Enjoy!
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.12.2017
09:47 am
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Through a Lens, Darkly: Weegee’s photographs of death and disaster
07.12.2017
09:27 am
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Murder was easy. The stiff would lie on the sidewalk for an hour or two until the wagon took his body downtown to the morgue. The stiff was slumped in the doorway of an Italian cafe, head to the door, feet on the sidewalk. Weegee sized up the scene. Every other photographer was taking the close-up. Bloodied face. Bloodied hands. Legs at strange angles. Weegee clocked the people hanging out of their tenement windows looking down on the scene below. Moms, Dads, kids reading the funnies. This was the drama. One stiff was the same as another. Weegee wanted his pictures to show some humanity. He walked back about a hundred feet. Set up his camera. Used flash powder and Kazam! There was the whole scene. The corpse. The blood. The cops. The balcony seat of people looking out to see what had just happened. Drama. Humanity. Crime.

Weegee came out of Złoczów now part of the Ukraine. He was born Arthur Fellig in June 1899. He emigrated with his family. They landed New York 1909. Lived in the Lower East Side. His father was a hatmaker and part-time rabbi. Weegee took whatever work came. He became a janitor. Got the nickname “Squeegee Boy.” He hung around with the bums on the Bowery. Started taking photographs. First passport pictures, then commercial work. At the age of thirty-five, he upped his game, quit commercial work, became a freelance news photographer.

He went out nights, hung around the police station waiting for the stories to come in over the teletype. Off he went taking pictures of murders, fires, fender benders, wacko kids on their way to juvie hall. He spent two years with no accreditation following the police all around town. In 1938, the cops gave him his own police radio. Weegee could tune in and pick up on what was happening. Most times he got to the crime scene before the cops. The cops thought he must be psychic. This gave rise to the apocryphal story his nickname was the phonetic spelling of “Ouija.” Weegee added a darkroom to the trunk of his car. He took his picture, developed it at the scene, put his print on the back, and sold it to the papers. During his ten years at police headquarters, Weegee said he must have photographed 5,000 murders—“at least one murder every night.”

Weegee wanted to capture the perfect picture. He always claimed he photographed things just as he found them but this wasn’t always so. The famous pic of rich tiaraed dames in white furs off to the opera with a dirty-faced down-and-out lady beside them was staged. The bum was a drunk from a bar in the Bowery. She was paid a few drinks to stand next to the patrons going to the Met. Even so, it’s a damn fine photograph.

Taking people’s pictures wasn’t easy. At first, Weegee felt nervous, scared, but he knew he had to show confidence. He had to be in control. When he was, he found out people liked getting their pictures taken. One day his editor asked him why was it that when cops arrested perps and threw them in the back of the wagon, the criminals always covered their faces? Weegee came up with a solution for that. One night, Weegee asked a moll if she wanted the picture the papers used just to be her mugshot? Cause that’s certainly what they’re gonna use. Wouldn’t it be better if he took a good picture the way she wanted to be seen, well-lit like a Rembrandt, looking her best rather than some guilty lowlife? After that, most perps wanted Weegee to capture their best side.

Weegee photographed a world of crime and violence, murder and death. He changed the way we look at the world. He made an art form of the crime scene, which appealed to both the sensation-hungry readers of the tabloid press and the leafy, middlebrow, intellectuals. Weegee’s photographs created a style that is often copied but never bettered. This is film noir. This is every classic gangster movie you’ve seen. This is life as it happened.
 
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More of Weegee’s shots of death & disaster, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.12.2017
09:27 am
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