“Crime Then and Now: Through the Lens of the Chicago Tribune,” opening tonight at the Gage Gallery at Roosevelt University in Chicago, features crime photos taken by Chicago Tribune photographers over the past 80 years. Curated by Chicago Tribune photo editor Michael Zajakowski and the Gage Gallery’s Tyra Robertson, the exhibit includes prints made from glass plate negatives and recent work by photographers on the crime beat, which the Chicago Tribune beefed up in 2013 to provide in-depth coverage of the consequences of violent crime in the city. From images of sensational trials and infamous gangsters, to quiet photos of loved ones grieving for young victims of gun violence, the work in the exhibition illustrates how much has changed in the way crime is documented and perceived by the public.
In the 20s and 30s, “Authorities allowed, even encouraged, photographers to make pictures of the grisly aftermath of murders and other crimes, as well as suspects (often innocent), victims and court proceedings,” the curators note. These days, however, police and forensic teams keep the press at a distance. “The mainstream media, stung by accusations of sensationalism, strive to render tragic situations in humane and respectful ways.”
“Crime Then and Now” is the second of three exhibitions in the Gage Gallery’s series called “Above the Fold,” examining ten decades of Chicago photojournalism. Images in the current exhibition show, and other crime images from the Tribune archive, have been published in a new book, Gangsters & Grifters: Classic Crime Photos from the Chicago Tribune. – Holly Stuart Hughes