Item description for Least Wanted by Mark Michaelson...
Punks, sneaks, mooks and miscreants. Hookers, stooges, grifters and goons. Men and women, elderly and adolescent, rich and poor, but mostly poor. These are the Least Wanted. Their portraits make up a small part of Mark Michaelson's collection of over 10,000 American mugshots from the 1870s to the 1960s. Created as utilitarian instruments, and meant to be destroyed when obsolete, they survive as remnants of a bygone era of hard-copy originals, extraordinary visual windows on the past, and riveting physical artifacts, often accompanied by municipal ephemera. They are glued to cards and manuscripts, typed on and rubber stamped. Each suspect has been measured and fingerprinted, documented and classified. Bored, sheepish, proud, coy, tough, defiant, bounced, bloodied, bruised, broken and innocent faces--innocent until proven guilty--stare back at the camera with unmistakable individuality. This is central casting for the Late Late Show of unvarnished reality, and the lineup is full of small-timers, those who have fallen through the cracks. Each subject, each image, is a person, a portrait, a trace, a crime, a clue, a moment, an expression, a frame, a mustache, a mother, a father, a son or a daughter. Each image is evidence, documentation. A record of people and of stories dismissed by history and rescued here. A century of American souls, filed and forgotten, until now. Contributors include Ian McEwan and New Yorker contributor Malcolm Gladwell.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 11.18" Width: 8.9" Height: 1.34" Weight: 3.7 lbs.
Release Date Oct 15, 2006
Publisher Steidl/Steven Kasher Gallery
ISBN 3865212913 ISBN13 9783865212917
Reviews - What do customers think about Least Wanted?
Mugs shot May 19, 2007
On page eleven of this intriguing book there is a sort of disclaimer that says: The fact a mugshot was taken does not establish that a crime was committed or that the subject of the photograph is guilty or innocent of any wrongdoing.
So not all the folk who appear on these pages are denizens of the underworld but most who do no doubt found out that the vine of crime yields bitter fruit, or words to that effect. You only have to read the list of priors on the cards to assume that nearly all those that do appear are guilty of something in their past.
All the photos are from the collection of Mark Michaelson (who also did a handsome job designing the book) which now runs to 10,000 shots from the 1870 to the early 1970s. Considering that the average mugshot is kind of predictable I'm amazed how interesting the book is. Many shots fill a page, sometimes the suspect is holding the board with their ID number, other times it is painted on the image in white paint. Interestingly you'll come across a page or two with cards that cover several years in a criminal's career, each with an age revealing photo and perhaps more relevant, details of a hopeless lack of success in wrongdoing. Pages 172 and 173 graphically reveal, in five cards, the failures of Joseph McGraw from 1931 to 1943 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Page 222 shows John Korkkobecz with a police file at thirteen, fourteen and eighteen.
Some law enforcement departments weren't satisfies with just a face they wanted a head to toe record. New York city, Fresno and Bridgeport are featured in the book doing this. A couple pages near the front show a neat way of getting a face-on and profile in one shot by using a mirror at an angle to the head. It looks really effective so I wonder why the technique never caught on?
The book's design and production is rather impressive. Most of the photos are black and white, some are sepia but the printing is actually four color with a 175-dot screen. This material in the hands of some other publishers would look really tacky but Steidl believe in putting out a quality product whatever the editorial content.
Despite the mundane nature of the contents Least Wanted is a fascinating look at one part of the criminal world so, as they used to say in Hawaii Five-O, "Book 'em Danno".
***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
A Thousand Words Plus Mar 23, 2007
What a fascinating book. Photo after photo of faces and their foibles, unadulerated, in your face. One can't help but wonder the stories behind each, what brought them down, what they did, their innocence or guilt. Young and old, the battered and bruised, some smiling, mugging (!) for the camera, others angry, frightened, defiant, sorrowful, every emotion in between, including a few who appear downright psychotic and the stuff of nightmares. The collection includes some early photos from the 1800s and continues through the 1960s / '70s. Hair and clothing styles change, entire eras are represented along with their mundane minutiae. The only hints supplied about these characters are what's been scribbled or noted upon the original photographs. Tantalizing bits which beg for filling in between the lines. Each and every face is a novel in itself. Scruffy, poignant, offputtingly bona fide.
Great Fun Jan 4, 2007
Friends who stop in and browse this book in my living room never fail to fall in love with it. The photos are well-organized, making them more fascinating to look at than if they'd been randomly selected. An excellent gift, by the way. I highly recommend this one.