Crime Stories: Photography and Foul Play at The Met
Image above: Bank Security Camera, Distributed by United Press International, Bank Robber Aiming at Security Camera, Cleveland, Ohio, March 8, 1975, Gelatin silver print Image:67/8×413/16in.(17.4×12.2cm);Sheet:71/2×57/8in.(19.1×15cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Twentieth Century Photography Fund, 2015 (2015.278) / Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Since the earliest days of the medium, photographs have been used for criminal investigation and evidence gathering, to record crime scenes, to identify suspects and abet their capture, and to report events to the public. Crime Stories: Photography and Foul Play, which opened March 7 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, explores the multifaceted intersections between photography and crime, from 19th-century “rogues’ galleries” to work by contemporary artists inspired by criminal transgression. The installation features some 70 works, drawn entirely from the Met collection, ranging from the 1850s to the present.
Image above: ©Unknown, French, Marius Bourotte, 1929, Gelatin silver print with applied color, 11.6 x 16.2 cm. (4 9/16 x 6 3/8 in.), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1996 (1996.158.3) / Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Among the highlights of the installation are Alexander Gardner’s documentation of the events following the assassination of President Lincoln, as well as rare forensic photographs by Alphonse Bertillon, the French criminologist who created the system of criminal identification that gave rise to the modern mug shot. Also on display are a vivid selection of vintage news photographs related to cases both obscure and notorious, such as a study of John Dillinger’s feet in a Chicago morgue in 1934; Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963; and Patty Hearst captured by bank surveillance cameras in 1974.
Image above: ©Tom Howard, American, 1894-1961, Electrocution of Ruth Snyder, Sing Sing Prison, Ossining, New York, 1928 Gelatin silver print, 24x19.3cm(97/16x75/8in.), Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, 2008 (2008.135), Photo New York Daily News Archives/Getty Images / Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
In addition to exploring photography’s evidentiary uses, the exhibition features work by artists who have drawn inspiration from the criminal underworld, including Richard Avedon, Larry Clark, Walker Evans, John Gutmann, Andy Warhol, and Weegee.
Image above: ©Larry Clark, American, born 1943, Armed Robbers, Oklahoma City, 1975, Gelatin silver print, 30.5 x 20.2 cm. (12 x 7 15/16 in.), Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1994 (1994.373.3) / Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Crime Stories: Photography and Foul Play is organized by a team in the Department of Photographs, which includes Jeff L. Rosenheim, Curator in Charge; Doug Eklund, Curator; Mia Fineman, Associate Curator; and Beth Saunders, Curatorial Assistant. Exhibition design is by Brian Butterfield, Senior Exhibition Designer; graphics are by Constance Norkin, Graphic Design Manager; and lighting is by Clint Ross Coller and Richard Lichte, Lighting Design Managers, all of the Museum’s Design Department.
Image above: Bank Security Camera, Distributed by United Press International, Patricia (Patty) Hearst During Hibernia Bank Robbery, San Francisco, 1974 Gelatin silver print, Image: 22.4 x 17.5 cm (8 13/16 x 6 7/8 in.), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Alan L. Paris, 2011 (2011.103) / Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The exhibition is featured on the Museum’s website, as well as on Facebook,