The J. Paul Getty Museum

Simply Add Boiling Water

Object Details

Title:

Simply Add Boiling Water

Artist/Maker:

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

Culture:

American

Place:

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

Date:

negative December 19, 1943; print about 1950

Medium:

Gelatin silver print

Object Number:

84.XM.190.33

Dimensions:

33.7 × 26.3 cm (13 1/4 × 10 3/8 in.)

Copyright:

© International Center of Photography

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Object Description

A dramatic nighttime fire at a New York City kitchen products factory provided Weegee with an opportunity to exhibit some wry humor. Just below where the water cannons douse the fire, and almost centered in the frame, a sign reads "SIMPLY ADD BOILING WATER." Weegee's intentionally ironic composition enhanced his chance of selling the image to newspapers, something that was always in the forefront of his mind as a freelance photographer.

Weegee's dramatic high contrast print nevertheless subtly reveals the tones of the building's facade at night. Glaring white ambulance lights, lamplight, and chutes of water from a fire truck mix with the ghostly glow of fire and steam. Using a combination of flashbulbs, and by some accounts flash powder, Weegee generated enough light to capture this scene.

Provenance
Provenance
-1984

Daniel Wolf, Inc., sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Neither Speech nor Language: Photography and the Written Word (February 28 to May 12, 1991)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), February 28 to May 12, 1991
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
True Grit: American Photographs from 1900 to 1950 (October 15, 2019 to January 19, 2020)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 15, 2019 to January 19, 2020
Bibliography
Bibliography

Wallis, Brian. Weegee: Murder is My Business (New York: International Center of Photography, 2012),.