Weegee (Arthur H. Fellig)

American, born Poland (Zloczew, Poland, 1899 - 1968, New York City, New York)

The Critic

photograph | gelatin silver print
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  • The Critic

    Weegee (Arthur H. Fellig), The Critic, 1943; gelatin silver print, 10 13/16 in. x 13 13/16 in. (27.46 cm x 35.08 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Fund of the '80s purchase; © Weegee / International Center of Photography / Getty Images

Originally titled The Fashionable People, this photograph is not the journalistic coup it appears to be, but rather a setup planned in advance by the photographer.

On opening night at New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1943 — the 60th anniversary of the company, and thus its Diamond Jubilee — Weegee sent an assistant to Sammy's Bar in the Bowery to pick up the drunken woman shown at right. Weegee positioned himself for the picture as the woman encountered Mrs. George Washington Kavanaugh and Lady Decies, two well-known art patrons often featured in New York society pages. The setup is typical of the photographer, who was enamored with stark juxtapositions of rich and poor, young and old, dead and living.

The picture, bearing the title The Fashionable People, was first published in Life magazine on December 03, 1943. It was renamed The Critic in Weegee's book The Naked City (1945).

10 13/16 in. x 13 13/16 in. (27.46 cm x 35.08 cm)
Acquired 1984
Collection SFMOMA
Fund of the '80s purchase
© Weegee / International Center of Photography / Getty Images


privilege, wealth, class distinctions, contrast, evening wear, tiaras, fur coats, corsages, poor, New York, capes, jewelry, disdain

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