Mckeyhan Presents

Car Crashes (Taschen)

Car Crashes  (Taschen)

A sort of West Coast Weegee, crime photographer Mell Kilpatrick covered the death-and-destruction beat in the suburban Los Angeles region from the late '40s through his death in 1963, and in that time and place, death and destruction frequently involved automobiles. Thanks to post-war prosperity and the auto industry's fascination with big cars with powerful engines, more people were driving, and driving faster, than ever before, leading America into a golden age of automobile accidents. Kilpatrick was there, taking pictures for the Santa Ana Register that went more or less unseen for decades until unearthed by collector Jennifer Dumas. Dumas titles her introduction to this collection of Kilpatrick's work, mostly car crashes with a few murders and suicides thrown in for good measure, "Why We Look." Morbid fascination plays a part, but there's horrific beauty in what he captures and the way he captures it. In one, a body, face down and covered by a blanket, is framed by his car and cheerful advertisements for a Mercury dealer and a car wash. In another, a teen sits dazed by his upside-down vehicle, still wearing James Dean clothes. It's the '50s America for which no one could be nostalgic, presented in black-and-white so bloodily beautiful that it's nearly impossible not to look. (Text from )




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