The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Critic

Object Details


The Critic


Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (American, born Austria, 1899 - 1968)




New York, New York, United States (Place Created)


November 22, 1943


Gelatin silver print

Object Number:



25.7 × 32.9 cm (10 1/8 × 12 15/16 in.)


© International Center of Photography

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Object Description

"I go around wearing rose-colored glasses. In other words, we have beauty. We have ugliness. Everybody likes beauty. But there is an ugliness..."

--Weegee, in a July 11, 1945 interview for WEAF radio, New York City

While Weegee's work appeared in many American newspapers and magazines, his methods would sometimes be considered ethically questionable by today's journalistic standards. In this image, a drunk woman confronts two High Society women who are attending the opera. Mrs. George Washington Kavanaugh and Lady Decies appear nonplussed to be in close proximity to the disheveled woman. Weegee's flash illuminates their fur wraps and tiaras, drawing them into the foreground. The drunk woman emerges from the shadows on the right side, her mouth tense and open as if she were saying something, hair tousled, her face considerably less sharp than those of her rich counterparts.

The Critic is the second name Weegee gave this photograph. He originally called it, The Fashionable People. In an interview, Weegee's assistant, Louie Liotta later revealed that the picture was entirely set up. Weegee had asked Liotta to bring a regular from a bar in the Bowery section of Manhattan to the season's opening of the Metropolitan Opera. Liotta complied. After getting the woman drunk, they positioned her near the red carpet, where Weegee readied his camera to capture the moment seen here.


Samuel Wagstaff, Jr., American, 1921 - 1987, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

The Flower Show: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum Selected by Sam Wagstaff (April 13, 1985 to January 11, 1986)
  • The Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit), April 13 to June 16, 1985
  • The Parrish Art Museum (Southampton), November 17, 1985 to January 11, 1986
Scene of the Crime: Photo by Weegee (September 20, 2005 to January 22, 2006)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), September 20, 2005 to January 22, 2006
In Focus: Expressions (May 22 to October 28, 2018)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 22 to October 28, 2018