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Underworld: Mugshots from the Roaring Twenties

Underworld: Mugshots from the Roaring Twenties


Never intended for public consumption, meet Sydney’s 1920s criminal underworld from stone-cold gangsters to thrill-seeking joy-riders in our captivating book accompanying our Underworld exhibition.

Underworld: Mugshots from the Roaring Twenties features more than 220 intriguing mugshots of police suspects from 1920s Sydney, documenting the denizens of the criminal underworld and providing a remarkable rogues’ gallery of thugs and thieves, prostitutes and pickpockets, white-collar opportunists and blue-collar gunmen.

The images are selected from a collection of more than 2500 glass-plate negatives, part of the New South Wales Police Forensic Photography Archive held at the Justice & Police Museum in Sydney. Never intended for public consumption, they are unique among international criminal portraiture. Suspects smile, laugh, snarl or sneer at the camera and each image is suffused with the sitter’s personality.

The accompanying essays ponder the remarkable aesthetic of the images and document the rapidly changing post-war world, exploring how new trends in crime played out on the streets of New York, Paris and Sydney. The stories of the suspects shine a light on the dark side of the Roaring Twenties.

Nerida Campbell with Luc Sante and Alastair Sooke
Published December 2017
288 pages
235mm x 320mm
ISBN 9781876991456

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