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Weegee

Untitled (Simply Add Boiling Water)

1937

Image not available

Artist

Weegee (1899-1968)

Title

Untitled (Simply Add Boiling Water)

Date

1937

Medium

Gelatin silver print

Dimensions

Sheet: 13 7/8 × 3 7/16 in. (35.2 × 8.7 cm) Image: 10 15/16 × 10 1/2 in. (27.8 × 26.7 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Denise Rich

Accession number

96.90.10

Object Label

Working as a freelance photographer for the tabloid press in the 1930s, Arthur Fellig was renowned for his ability to appear at the scene of a crime or fire moments after it occurred. To further his reputation, he adopted the name Weegee, derived from the phonetic spelling of the Ouija board, in which a spiritual force prophesies events. The truth was more prosaic: the photographer had rented a room near police headquarters, which enabled him to pick up emergency signals on his shortwave radio and beat the police to the site. He often subtitled his published images, adding irony or dark humor to disastrous situations such as the fire depicted here, which occurred at the American Kitchen Products building on Water Street in downtown Manhattan.