Arthur Fellig's ability to arrive at a crime scene just as the cops did was so uncanny that he became known as "Weegee," claiming that he functioned as a human Ouija board. Weegee documented better than any other photographer the crime, grit, and complex humanity of midcentury New York City. In Flash, we get a portrait not only of the man (both flawed and deeply talented, with generous appetites for publicity, women, and hot pastrami) but also of the fascinating time and place that he occupied.
From self-taught immigrant kid to newshound to art-world darling to latter-day caricature-moving from the dangerous streets of New York City to the celebrity culture of Los Angeles and then to Europe for a quixotic late phase of experimental photography and filmmaking-Weegee lived a life just as vivid as the scenes he captured. Flash is an unprecedented and ultimately moving view of the man now regarded as an innovator and a pioneer, one whose photographs are among the most powerful images of urban existence ever made.
Christopher Bonanos is a senior editor at New York Magazine, where he covers arts and culture. He is the author previously of Instant: The Story of Polaroid. He lives in New York City.