Art porn: Mug shots from the 1920's would make Anna Wintour pee her little Anna Wintour pants

Art porn: Mug shots from the 1920's would make Anna Wintour pee her little Anna Wintour pants

CultureAugust 22, 2013

Recently, we came across this collection of 1920's mug shots from Australia's Sydney Living Museums via the Historic Houses Trust. Who knew mug shots from the 20's looked like fashion editorials that would make the Anna Wintours of today weep?

This collection of portraits is referred to as the 'Special Photographs,' because they were meant to be designated as separate from everyday prison mug shots, and were taken for artistic purposes.  Made from glass plate negatives (plus some cellulose negatives) the series was created by New South Wales Police Department photographers between 1910 and the early 1930's. Series curator Peter Doyle explains,

The subjects of the Special Photographs seem to have been allowed – perhaps invited – to position and compose themselves for the camera as they liked. Their photographic identity thus seems constructed out of a potent alchemy of inborn disposition, personal history, learned habits and idiosyncrasies, chosen personal style (haircut, clothing, accessories) and physical characteristics.

The collection includes portraits of well-known Sydney identities, including John Frederick ‘Chow’ Hayes and Guido Calletti, notorious criminals active in Sydney’s razor gang era. Take a look...they're stunning/haunting/beautiful/eerie/nostalgic/striking/bone-chilling/really f-ing awesome.