By Mark McConville
GRUESOME early twentieth century crime scenes of New York’s gangland murders by a legendary news photographer said to have been able to “predict” crime have been given a new perspective after being expertly colourised.
The unnerving photographs by Arthur Fellig show the bodies of Robert Green and Jacob Jagendorf after a failed robbery attempt, a bloodied couple lying dead in bed and a murder victim with a chalk outline drawn around him.
Other horrifying pictures show a man in a suit lying dead with his hat beside his head, the body of Antonio Pemear who was murdered in his residence and a close-up of a corpse’s bloodied and battered face.
The original black and white crime scene photographs were painstakingly colourised by Frédéric Duriez (52), from Angres, France.
“I think that it’s is a haunting collection of crime scene photographs never meant to be seen by the public in colour,” he said.
“I like how picture was taken. Just above the character. This increases the dramatic side of the scene.
“It is by chance that I discovered these pictures on the internet. They seemed fantastic. I thought, why not colourise them.”
In the 1930s, the photographer Weegee (Arthur Fellig) revolutionized photojournalism with his stark portraits of urban crime scenes, often shooting the aftermath of violent murders and horrific accidents.
The images captured the rapidly changing city that New York was in the decade before prohibition, which itself brought a fresh wave of violent crime.
Weegee worked in Manhattan, New York City’s Lower East Side, as a press photographer during the 1930s and 1940s, and he developed his signature style by following the city’s emergency services and documenting their activity.
Much of his work depicted unflinchingly realistic scenes of urban life, crime, injury and death. Weegee published photographic books and also worked in cinema, initially making his own short films and later collaborating with film directors such as Jack Donohue and Stanley Kubrick.
Fellig earned his nickname, a phonetic rendering of Ouija, because of his frequent, seemingly prescient arrivals at scenes only minutes after crimes, fires or other emergencies were reported to authorities. He is variously said to have named himself Weegee or to have been named either by the staff at Acme Newspictures or by a police officer.