Jason Hill, Artist as Reporter: Weegee, Ad Reinhardt, and the PM News Picture, 1940–1948

On October 13th in Paris, Jason Hill: “Artist as Reporter: Weegee, Ad Reinhardt, and the PM News Picture, 1940–1948.”


This informal talk will provide an overview of the New York City tabloid PM’s activation of the logic and rhetoric of art in the conduct of its progressive journalism between 1940 and 1948. Opening with a discussion of PM’s collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art in the spring of 1940, where the tabloid announced its artistic journalistic intentions to its future readers with an exhibition of “spot sketch reports” by artists who could capture the news “with brush and pen,” the presentation will then consider the tabloid’s strategically anachronistic deployment of the artist’s sketch report in its routine daily reporting at a distinctly “camera-minded” moment. This unlikely gambit will be shown to have been extended by editors, including the photographer and filmmaker Ralph Steiner, into a related troubling of the terms of press photography’s medium-specific claims to evidentiary authority. All of this as preface to a consideration of the critical contributions to PM’s reporting—and to its challenge to journalism’s pretensions to objectivity—of the tabloid’s two chief “artist reporters” : the photographer Weegee and the abstract painter and cartoonist Ad Reinhardt. PM, it will be shown, traded in a modern, if idiosyncratic, American journalistic art.