Serial Killers

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It may just be me, and if it's not, it could just be an artefact of his individual style, but it strikes me that there is a certain similarity in the mouths of some of the women on those painting - the particular way that the corners of the upper lip overshoot the lower. One wonders if, when he was painting these women - or possibly when he met the originals (if indeed he did) - he maybe had one particular in mind.

Is this decision to publish unique?...
When working in London I used to frequent the (alas now no longer with us) Murder One bookshop on Charing Cross Road. Around the mid to late 90's there was a bit of a thing for books of artwork and random jottings created by incarcerated criminals (some very violent ones, too). Clearly, these were not published with the aim of tracing victims, or solving cold cases - they were a platform for convicted men to express their emotions and inner feelings, and air their creativity...and, from what I could see, were universally bloody awful.
 

GNC

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If you see the experimental documentary Caniba, it features a cannibalistic killer who thanks to being declared mentally ill, was never imprisoned (being son of a rich and influential businessman helped too). This unpleasant specimen has spent the years since profiting off his "bad boy" status, and in the film he talks his way through the crime accompanied by closeups of him leafing through the manga comic he drew about it. It's dreadful. He's dreadful.
 

Comfortably Numb

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When working in London I used to frequent the (alas now no longer with us) Murder One bookshop on Charing Cross Road. Around the mid to late 90's there was a bit of a thing for books of artwork and random jottings created by incarcerated criminals (some very violent ones, too)...
Struth... that's fascinating... must have been extraordinary - thanks for sharing.
 

Shady

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@Spookdaddy I saw that as well, and some seem to be the same women only white not black, he appears to have a fixation on their mouths
 

AlchoPwn

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Quite, who the hell wants shitty paintings and drawings made by shitty people?
Sick idiots generally want things like that. You know, creepy people who aren't quite creepy enough to be serial killers themselves, but might fantasize about it. I bet some of them would quite like to be murdered too. Sweet dreams are made of this...
 

James_H

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I'll bite. I think people like 'outsider art' because it shows creativity from a perspective outside the consensus reality of society, which in turn gives insights to 'the human condition'. It also gives a look into the internal life of 'outsider' personalities, which may cause us to reflect on our own internal lives.

There are some dubious examples like Henry Darger, the lonely janitor who produced an involved and insane opus of writing and paintings which only came to light after his death. This act of creativity was gargantuan and intensely interesting, and I have no idea of any criminal intent, but he sure did like drawing naked pictures of children.

For some people, a serial murderer is the ultimate example of somebody living outside of social norms. I suspect this is why true crime is so popular as a genre now: though most 'true crime' fans would never dream of idolising or imitating these people, they are still interested in exploring and defining (perhaps re-affirming for themselves) the boundaries of what is socially acceptable. As well as taking a peek at the depravity possible within the human mind and soul. As such, the interest in serial murderers and true crime is a kind of black mirror of the mainstream aspects of our society and our minds.

Therefore, it seems natural that some people will be interested in the artwork produced by murderers. Remember that John Wayne Gacy paintings sell like hotcakes to a certain audience.
 

Yithian

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I'll bite. I think people like 'outsider art' because it shows creativity from a perspective outside the consensus reality of society, which in turn gives insights to 'the human condition'. It also gives a look into the internal life of 'outsider' personalities, which may cause us to reflect on our own internal lives.

There are some dubious examples like Henry Darger, the lonely janitor who produced an involved and insane opus of writing and paintings which only came to light after his death. This act of creativity was gargantuan and intensely interesting, and I have no idea of any criminal intent, but he sure did like drawing naked pictures of children.

For some people, a serial murderer is the ultimate example of somebody living outside of social norms. I suspect this is why true crime is so popular as a genre now: though most 'true crime' fans would never dream of idolising or imitating these people, they are still interested in exploring and defining (perhaps re-affirming for themselves) the boundaries of what is socially acceptable. As well as taking a peek at the depravity possible within the human mind and soul. As such, the interest in serial murderers and true crime is a kind of black mirror of the mainstream aspects of our society and our minds.

Therefore, it seems natural that some people will be interested in the artwork produced by murderers. Remember that John Wayne Gacy paintings sell like hotcakes to a certain audience.
Good post and much with which I find myself in agreement.

You've made a case for why such art should be studied or preserved, but I still wouldn't buy it for my personal collection (if I had one). As a curator of a museum or exhibition I might like to purchase or display it, but I don't want it in my home--especially not if it is produced by somebody who is guilty of some enormity--doubly not if they are still alive to benefit from the sale.
 

James_H

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Good post and much with which I find myself in agreement.

You've made a case for why such art should be studied or preserved, but I still wouldn't buy it for my personal collection (if I had one). As a curator of a museum or exhibition I might like to purchase or display it, but I don't want it in my home--especially not if it is produced by somebody who is guilty of some enormity--doubly not if they are still alive to benefit from the sale.
Yes, I certainly wouldn't buy it and I am also uneasy with the fetishisation of serial killer art. I just think it's inevitable that some people will fetishise it.

There's a market for serial killer stuff. Here's an interesting podcast on the subject: The Murky World Of Serial Killer Memorabilia.

There is a law in the United States to stop criminals profiting from this kind of output, instated post David Berkowitz. However, others can still profit from resale.

I am interested in outsider art in general but usually in cases in which while expressed content is unusual, the talent is obvious (I don't think so in this case). Also my interest comes up against a brick wall when the 'artist' has seriously hurt people. Still, many are tempted to look for clues to Hitler's motivations in his paintings, and so on...

As I recall, Colin Wilson caught some flak for writing an introduction to Ian Brady's memoirs.
 

Ogdred Weary

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There's some value in preserving the artwork of serious criminals, if only as a window into their minds, which may have practical use in terms of diagnosing and possibly preventing further tragedies. The crass commercialisation of it is sickening - books of this artwork available to the general public, as opposed to psychologists or police for example. You can make the argument that selling these books funds creating them and that they can be purchased by trainee law enforcement or psychology students etc but they'll also be bought buy weirdos and perverts too. The counter argument there is that most people purchasing Lolita are not paedophiles, nor most people buying horror films are not murderere etc

The arguments go on forever and as James H has said, we are all fascinated by vileness and it's hard to know where this becomes prurience or where it then transitions to something worse, even if the purchasers are not committing any crime.

@Yithian, I likewise wouldn't want it in my home but also wouldn't want to buy it for a museum either, unless it was a museum of mental health/criminology. I'm mostly, very liberal but we all have personal limits. No criticism of yourself implied here.
 
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The arguments go on forever and as James H has said, we are all fascinated by vileness and it's hard to know where this becomes prurience or where it then transitions to something worse, even if the purchasers are not committing any crime.
That such things are fascinating is quite irrelevant to decisions made about such 'art'.

In our reasonably civilised societies, we lock up those who transgress against the norms as an expression of disapproval of such behaviours. That there is some fascination with such does not justify anything which preserves or furthers the notoriety of such behaviours. I don't find the "such art may help with understanding and preventing similar crimes" argument at all convincing, although it may have merit if for those respected psychologists with a PhD in some kind of criminal behaviour and access to such material was limited only to such professionals.

There are many aspect of being human that we rightly reject as a society, including, mugging old ladies in the street, genocide, sexual assaults, selling people addictive drugs and so on. Being civilised is about rejecting such aspects of our innate human behaviour, both as an individual and as a society. It's human nature to steal; it's civilised to respect another's property.

Whatever my personal fascination with such art might be, I think it serves no purpose, beyond allowing the 'artist' to gain from his crime by receiving vicarious attention that they crave. It's absolutely civilised to humanely lock such monsters away, figuratively throw away the key and forget them utterly as individuals.
 

Ogdred Weary

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That such things are fascinating is quite irrelevant to decisions made about such 'art'.

In our reasonably civilised societies, we lock up those who transgress against the norms as an expression of disapproval of such behaviours. That there is some fascination with such does not justify anything which preserves or furthers the notoriety of such behaviours. I don't find the "such art may help with understanding and preventing similar crimes" argument at all convincing, although it may have merit if for those respected psychologists with a PhD in some kind of criminal behaviour and access to such material was limited only to such professionals.

There are many aspect of being human that we rightly reject as a society, including, mugging old ladies in the street, genocide, sexual assaults, selling people addictive drugs and so on. Being civilised is about rejecting such aspects of our innate human behaviour, both as an individual and as a society. It's human nature to steal; it's civilised to respect another's property.

Whatever my personal fascination with such art might be, I think it serves no purpose, beyond allowing the 'artist' to gain from his crime by receiving vicarious attention that they crave. It's absolutely civilised to humanely lock such monsters away, figuratively throw away the key and forget them utterly as individuals.
And yet all of those things happen all the time, as you state. I agree on not giving these people attention and certainly on not allowing them to profit from their notoriety, however, are extreme and extremely unpleasant behaviours worthy of study? I'd say so, I too, think there is little we can do prevent many (though perhaps some) terrible things happening and we certainly can't eradicate them completely. Sweep those individuals under the carpet by all means but not necessarily the acts. The victims/survivors often get swept under the carpet anyway, people enjoy articulating rage at such events - look at the front page of many newspapers or the internet generally but few people, if anyone would want any sort of actual dialogue with those directly affected.

I'm not certain I'm able to articulate what I want to say at all well and mine is something of a fence sitting position anyway.

Edit - I was not saying that people's morbid fascination with real life horrors makes something into "art", quite the opposite.
 

maximus otter

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As an aside, it seems that familial DNA from a public database may be helping to solve another murder; though not, admittedly, from a series of serial killings.

I mention this case because of a paragraph from the article:

"More than 15 million people have offered up their DNA to online genealogy services in recent years. While they represent a small fraction of all people, the pool of profiles is large enough to allow 60 percent of white Americans to be identified through the databases, according to researchers.

Researchers believe that in the coming years, 90 percent of Americans of European descent will be identifiable, even if they have not submitted their own DNA
."

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/17/us/jerry-westrom-isanti-mn.html

No privacy concerns there, then...

maximus otter
 

Ogdred Weary

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As an aside, it seems that familial DNA from a public database may be helping to solve another murder; though not, admittedly, from a series of serial killings.

I mention this case because of a paragraph from the article:

"More than 15 million people have offered up their DNA to online genealogy services in recent years. While they represent a small fraction of all people, the pool of profiles is large enough to allow 60 percent of white Americans to be identified through the databases, according to researchers.

Researchers believe that in the coming years, 90 percent of Americans of European descent will be identifiable, even if they have not submitted their own DNA."

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/17/us/jerry-westrom-isanti-mn.html

No privacy concerns there, then...

maximus otter
A friend did the 23&Me thing recently and chose to answer questions about illnesses running in the family and so on for medical research.

Or eugenics.
 

GerdaWordyer

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Sick idiots generally want things like that. You know, creepy people who aren't quite creepy enough to be serial killers themselves, but might fantasize about it. I bet some of them would quite like to be murdered too. Sweet dreams are made of this...
Just curious. Obviously you don't like killers. Your posts on this forum are not nasty. Why is the murderer Capone your thumbnail i.d.? (Though your spelling of it is clever.)
 

AlchoPwn

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Just curious. Obviously you don't like killers. Your posts on this forum are not nasty. Why is the murderer Capone your thumbnail i.d.? (Though your spelling of it is clever.)
You're right, I chose Capone mainly because I liked the joke spelling I chose. It is also a comment on how the corruption brought alcohol prohibition "pwned" the USA, and generations later, the drug prohibition is perpetuating the same evils. Capone himself was also surprisingly eloquent for a syphilitic Chicago hoodlum http://www.quoteambition.com/famous-al-capone-quotes-sayings/. This is not to say that I endorse him in any way, but he was an interesting character, and iconic in US history. As a scary but vaguely funny aside, when the USSR decided to adopt Capitalism, their own rhetoric about capitalism being essentially organized crime made them think that Al Capone was the very essence of a successful American capitalist, and has flavored everything about Russian politics in the post -Soviet era.
 

EnolaGaia

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The 1971 American record-holder for most known serial kills has died ...
Serial 'machete murderer' Juan Corona dies of natural causes
One of the United States' worst serial killers died Monday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

Juan Vallejo Corona, 85, died of natural causes at around 8:15 a.m. at an outside hospital, the department said in a media release.

He was an inmate at the California State Prison-Corcoran.

Corona was serving 25 concurrent life sentences for having mutilated and murdered 25 farmworkers in 1971, which at the time made him the most prolific serial killer in American history.
SOURCE: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/201...na-dies-of-natural-causes/5711551753269/?sl=4
 

Tribble

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German authorities launched a probe into a string of deaths at a metal fittings company after an employee was caught trying to poison a co-worker's lunch. Police found quicksilver, lead and cadmium in the man's home.

The man was arrested for the incident in the town of Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock, northwest Germany. However, police now suspect he may be responsible for up to 21 deaths of people working for the same company.

On Wednesday, authorities announced they would be expanding their investigation to include the deaths of 21 more employees who have died since 2000. Two other employees are in a coma and another man is on dialysis. Many of the deceased died of cancer or heart attacks, which could be caused by heavy metal poisoning, according to the Germany's public broadcaster WDR.

https://www.dw.com/en/german-man-su...co-workers-by-poisoning-their-food/a-44427747

(Talk about a toxic workplace...)
I assume it's the same person since it's the same town and modus operandi : "Klaus O" has been given life in prison for attempted murder.

Two of them, a 27-year-old and the other aged 67, suffered chronic kidney damage from poisoning with lead and cadmium. Both men face a heightened risk of cancer. A 23-year-old trainee fell into a coma after ingesting mercury and has permanent brain damage.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...-co-workers-sandwiches-receives-life-sentence
 
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...Sweep those individuals under the carpet by all means but not necessarily the acts. The victims/survivors often get swept under the carpet anyway...
I have a bit of a thing for collecting shit Amazon reviews, and this has reminded me of particularly cretinous one for Robert Kolker's, Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery.

I'll leave it for anyone who might be interested to check out the one star reviews, but basically the reader is frustrated that he/she has to read about the lives of the victims, who he clearly believes to be a bunch of losers ('spare me the sob story'), when, of course, what a book like this should be about is 'a thrilling insight into the workings of a serial killer'. (Yeah, right – I think what you might be trying to say is, 'show me the gore'.)

Aside from the fact that the victims of these killers are worthy of more respect, from a purely practical point of view what this particular walloper completely fails to see is that there might be more clues into the workings of a killer from a study of the victims than are physically left by him at the scene of a crime. And also, that they may be a damn site more interesting as human beings than their murderers – who, from what I’ve read, tend to be a pretty tedious bunch.)
 
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