Bess Lovejoy knows a thing or three about corpses.
Her book on the fate of various famous stiffs, Rest in Pieces, was voted by Amazon to be one of last year’s best reads. She is a member of something called The Order of Good Death, as well as a founding member of Death Salon. (That group’s next NYC event is slated for sometime in 2015, at the Morbid Anatomy Museum.)
In other words, it’s no surprise that Lovejoy found a way to lead off her Smithsonian piece about William Mortensen with a colorful corpse anecdote that ropes in a couple of other famous photographers. The legacy of Mortensen, who passed away in 1965, is being revived this fall in the form of several exhibitions and a brand new book titled American Grotesque:
Mortensen wrote a series of bestselling instructional books and a weekly photography column in the Los Angeles Times, and ran the Mortensen School of Photography in Laguna Beach, where some 3,000 students passed through the doors. The artist and photography scholar Larry Lytle, who has done extensive research on Mortensen, calls him “photography’s first superstar.”