Born in 1897 in Park City, Utah, William Mortensen was a self taught photographic artist who along with the actress Fay Wray made his way to Hollywood in 1921. There he worked with such notable directors as Cecil B Demille, Tod Browning, John Griffith Wray and Ferdinand P. Earle as a still photographer and costume and mask maker. He was given a whole floor at the Western Costume Company to work in and used the resources to perpetuate his own art. His fascination with occult subject matter began when he saw the film "Haxan: Witchcraft Through The Agee, a 1922 Swedish-Danish documentary-style silent horror film written and directed by Benjamin Christensen.

William Mortensen was highly sought after as a photographer in Hollywood until 1929, when a scandal involving his relationship with Fay Wray was the subject of an article in Motion Picture Magazine, he was forced to leave Hollywood and relocate his practice to Laguna Beach. where he open the Mortensen School of photography, and took the opportunity to develop his techniques of manipulated photography, publish a dozen books on various subjects of photographic techniques and philosophies, and attracted several thousand students from all over the world.

Despite his successes, Mortensen was engaged in a public feud with Ansel Adams. who called him "The Anti-Christ. and as a result his acknowledgement as an artist was relegated to less than a footnote, and Mortensen sadly died frustrated and obscure in 1965. It is only in the past 15 years or so, since the ad-vent of digital photography, that William Mortensen has been recognized as a seminal American artist, and in 2014 the late Adam Parfrey's Feral House published a book "William Mortensen: American Grotesque- which increased Mortensen's visibility by orders of magnitude, and William Mortensen now is recognized as a national treasure, the status he rightfully deserves. In 2018, William Mortensen's first solo exhibition outside of the USA was mounted in Tasmania at the Dark Mofo festival attracting 6,000 visitors over 10 days.

The inclusion of William Mortensen in our current understanding of the history of photography marks an end to the long-term injustice done to the man and germinal work_

"Anathematized, ostracized, and eventually purged from the dominant narratives of 20th-century photography due to the biases of a small but influential cluster of historians, curators, and photographers, Mortensen plunged into an obscurity so deep that by 1980 most considered him unworthy of even a footnote. Yet the approach to the medium that he advocated, under the rubric of "pictorialism; included practices central to photography of the past four decades: events staged for the camera, image text combinations, photomontage. "alternative processes. and more “

A.D. Coleman, excepted from °William Mortensen Reconsidered" published by Stephen Romano Gallery 2014 stephen ROMANO galley

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