8 Photographers Who Made A Business Out Of Death And Morbid Curiosity

8 Photographers Who Made A Business Out Of Death And Morbid Curiosity

Avatar of Olympia Villagrán

By: Olympia Villagrán

November 7, 2016

Photography 8 Photographers Who Made A Business Out Of Death And Morbid Curiosity
Avatar of Olympia Villagrán

By: Olympia Villagrán

November 7, 2016

We dive directly into the deep end with the work of Mexican photographer Enrique Metinides, who worked for tabloid and straight-laced newspapers. One of the hobbies Metinides developed from a young age was photography, and it was later on that the artist began to compile memorabilia and images of graphic, violent, and real scenarios. 
All these scenes revolve around car accidents, crimes of passion, and accidents, and the photographer captured the hysteria and shock in a single frame. His work reflects the human pain and drama of everyday life under a different light. He plunged into the depths of human suffering and came out a consummate artist with an elegant eye and composition that stood out from the rest of the tabloid photographers. 

enrique-metidines morbid curiosity

enrique-metidines-accident morbid curiosity
enrique-metidines-morbid curiosity photography

Death, morbid curiosity, and violence has become the currency and business of several international photographers. Their images destabilize the world and expose, on the one hand, diversity and, on the other, human decadence. Their work became the most sought after and repelled in the world of contemporary art. 

Diane Arbus (1923-1971) – United States

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Arbus owes her fame to the freak aesthetic of her photographs. The artist dedicated her craft to capture people with unique physiology. Unfairly dubbed "The Photographer of Monsters," Diane Arbus is recognized for her poignant and honest portraits of individuals who have been shoved to the fringes of society. It is controversial elicitation of compassion for some, while others find her work disturbing and bizarre. 

Joel-Peter Witkin (1939) – United States

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Witkin's work breaks every barrier, and it is so controversial it has been banned in several states in the US. He is known to frequently travel to Mexico, where he can work with bodies that are left unclaimed. His compositions are based on a metaphor on mortality, and it is this strong statement what makes his work so memorable and striking. 

Irina Ionesco (1935) – France

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She captured her own daughter, Eva in a highly controversial manner. What began as a family album ended up being a sickly, vicious cycle of aesthetics, psychological violence, and hair raising beauty. Eva has sued her mother for psychological violence.

Jan Saudek (1935) – Czech Republic

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At the start of his career, Saudek had to hide from the communist police inside a warehouse he had adapted into a studio. His aim was to explore surrealist symbols, political metaphors, and the excesses of sex through the medium of photography. He became a spokesperson against social injustice, and he stoked the morbid curiosity of the audience. 

Andrés Serrano (1950) – United States

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Serrano mesmerizes the audience that, while attracted to his work, is equally repelled by the polemic and splendid images. He has been accused of perversion, heresy, and vulgarity. His body of work that captures corpses took him to the heights of the disconcerting and to success as a contemporary artist. 

Gottfried Hellwein (1948) – Austria

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Hellwein transformed death into a brightly lit and theatrical scene. The aesthetic reunites some kitsch elements that shock the audience in unexpected moments. While her work is not violent, it is tragic to observe these young children as protagonists of these montages. 

Bill Henson (1955) – Australia

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This artist perfectly wields chiaroscuro. His work is based on young souls that are suspended in nocturnal and ambiguous landscapes that reflect the mysteries of one of life's most uncertain stages: the adolescence. The controversy was such that Henson was forced to cancel one of his exhibitions. Undaunted, he continues on with this artistic series. 

Violent, sadistic, graphic, bloodthirsty, erotic, or any adjective we can conjure to describe these photographs are only but a dramatized reflection of a reality we live and endure on a daily basis. It is true, these artists found fame and fortune by crafting these violent and shocking projects. Who is to blame for the rise of such business? The sadistic artist or the equally desensitized and sadistic observer?