Pictures I Like: Weegee, “The Critic”, 1943

Weegee, "The Critic", 1943

My Story: “Look over here, you snooty bags. Over here! I gotcher class war right here, you stuck-up hags!”
    “My goodness, Miranda, did you hear something?”
    “No, no… Let’s talk of something pleasant, shall we? Like the ballet we’re attending.”
    “It’s the opera, Miranda.”

The Facts: New York sidewalk photographer Weegee (aka Arthur Fellig)  took this picture on the 1943 opening night of the Metropolitan Opera. He had an assistant recruit a woman in a Bowery bar and load her full of cheap wine. The assistant propped her up by the opera entrance waiting for the swells. When Mrs. Cavanaugh and Lady Decies arrived, the assistant stepped away, hoping that the woman would manage to stand up long enough for Weegee to capture the shot. Weegee originally titled his photo “The Fashionable People” and it included a line of ordinary folks on the left, waiting to get in to the Opera. Weegee said: “The plain people waited in line for hours to get standing room, listened intently and, as always, showed better musical manners than the people sitting in boxes.”  When Life ran the photo, the common people were cropped out as being uninteresting and the picture was re-titled “The Critic”. Lots of social commentary possible here.

uncropped version. "The Fashionable People"

For more on Weegee.


4 comments on “Pictures I Like: Weegee, “The Critic”, 1943

  1. anne says:

    At least, even with a drunk they got it right. Now my only question is: which rich bitch is Romney and which is Obama? The drunk woman is obvious. They stupify us with false promises which they have no intention of fufilling and proceed to their opera or ballet or whatever brings them to power. And lie their way to it. Hope the tiaras are deemed worth it

  2. […] street and crime photography in New York City, and here’s perhaps his most famous 1943 photo, “The Critic“. It ostensibly shows a homeless woman glaring at two bejeweled socialites entering the opera, […]

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