Grotesque, Occult, and Bizarre Images by William Mortensen, the Forgotten Hollywood Photographer – Design You Trust

Grotesque, Occult, and Bizarre Images by William Mortensen, the Forgotten Hollywood Photographer

Photographer Ansel Adams, whose beautiful black and white landscapes full of mountains still grace both museum and office walls, called fellow photographer William Mortensen “the Anti-Christ” for what he did to the art of photography.


In a roll call of the pioneers of modern photography, one name is never invoked. From the late 1920s to the 1950s, William Mortensen was one of the most famous and celebrated photographers in America. However, his subject matter – which veered towards the savage, indecorous, gothic and grotesque – as well as his use of montage and illustration, made him a pariah among the puritanical new guard in photography, led by Ansel Adams, who tried to write him out of history.

Mortensen was the last of the great pictorialist photographers, the movement that dominated early 20th-century photography. Working in Hollywood, he shot many of the leading stars of his day: Rudolph Valentino, Lon Chaney, Fay Wray, Jean Harlow, Clara Bow and Peter Lorre all submitted themselves to the gaze of his lens.

If you want more awesome content, subscribe to 'Oh, Design You Trust,' our brand new Facebook page! Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

More Inspiring Stories

Cool Snaps That Show Bedroom Walls In The 1980s
Melted Ice Cream Transformations By Michael Massaia
1969 Buick Century Cruiser: The Concept Car That Believed You Only Live Twice
Edwardian London as Seen Through the Eyes of an Unknown Russian Tourist in 1909
"New York State On Pause": These Photos Show How COVID-19 Changed Daily Life In NYC
Neon, Moody And Cinematic Nightscapes Of Shanghai And Beyond By Victor Chiang
What If Abstract Models Were Real People? Photographer Imagines What The Subjects In Famous Paintings Would Look Like!
'Know Where You Stand': Photographer Fuses 4 Historical Events With Present-Day Images
Photographer Ask Strangers To Reveal Their Deepest Regrets In Life
Chilling Photographs of Summer Tourists on the Acropolis in Athens in the Early 1980s
Beautiful Retro & Romance Fashion Photography By Jerry Schatzberg
"Women of The Future" According to The French Artist Albert Bergeret, 1902
Japanese Photographer Captures Breathtaking Images Of Gifu Castle Against Reiwa Era’s First Cold Moon
Vintage Photos of Cars During Winter in the 1950s and ’60s
The Showy And Coloured Selfies Of Véronique Duplain
Hilarious Images From The Opening Scenes Of Adult Movies
Olympian Athletes Star in Alfred Dunhill Spring Summer 2012 Voice Campaig
Photo of the Day: Gone with the Wind
Russian Photographer Makes Astonishing Photographs That Reveal The Beauty Of Russian Cities
Beautiful 'Then And Now' Pictures Of Women From London's '80s Subcultures
Alessandro Servadei Captures Stunning Photos Of Abandoned Industrial Landscapes In Australia
"Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark": Stunning Photos of Cassandra Peterson in the 1980s
September 7: This Day In Photos From The Past
The Art Of Natural Environment In Minimalist Photographs By Morgane Erpicum