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    Sale 2110

    Fine Photobooks From An Important Private Collection

    10 April 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 70


    Price Realised  


    Naked City. New York: Essential Books, 1945.

    Octavo (234 x 164 mm). 239 black and white photographs. Original tan cloth, spine and front cover lettered in blue; original photo-illustrated dustjacket, printed in yellow, red and black (a few short tears, a few very small chips at extremities); cloth folding box. Weegee's signature in green ink on the title page, dated "1948".

    Autograph letter signed ("Weegee") to John Faber ("Mr John Faber"), with envelope, undated but postmarked "13 April 1960", from the Mapleton Hotel, London. 10 pages, quarto.

    FIRST EDITION, SIGNED BY WEEGEE AND IN AN EXCELLENT DUST-JACKET. A "photobook masterpiece... this is one of the great documentary photobooks" (The Photobook). WITH A LENGTHY LETTER FROM WEEGEE TO JOHN FABER, of the Eastman Kodak Co., describing how he came to shoot 'The Critic', one of his most famous photographs: "this photo changed the whole course of my life". His work as "official" photographer for Murder Inc not starting until midnight Weegee decided to take a chance on an opening at the Metropolitan Opera House: "the other photographers... told me to go back to my corpses, being a non conformist I said to myself fuck that nonsense, I went outside in the cold", a car pulled-up, but the war meant a black-out was in effect, "I couldn't see much but I could smell the smugness, so I aimed my camera and made the shot... and rushed back to the newspaper". Weegee describes the "dopey" editor rejecting the photograph, and how it was subsequently picked-up by Life and published throughout the world and "in my first book Naked City". Weegee then discusses selling the film rights, becoming a celebrity himself, and moving to Hollywood ("all the gangsters having shot each other off"). He goes on describing working on both sides of the Atlantic for Vogue&, Life, Fortune and others: "I still haven't recuperated from that photo". 101 Books, pp.118-19; The Open Book, pp.142-43; The Photobook, vol. I, p.145. (2)

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