Cover Image

Larger ImageView Larger

Hidden Alcatraz

The Fortress Revealed

Steve Fritz (Editor), Deborah Roundtree (Editor), Peter Coyote (Foreword), John Martini (Introduction), Thom Sempere (Afterword by)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 120 pages
ISBN: 9780520260849
April 2011
$26.95, £21.00
Alcatraz—infamous for its legendary inmates—is much more than its grim history. Hidden Alcatraz focuses on the current state of the island fortress, presenting a unique collection of nearly one hundred images taken over a four-year period by thirty-four photographers, including Steve Fritz, Deborah Roundtree, Robert Dawson, Alex Fradkin, Thom Sempere, and Michael Venera. As participants in workshops on “the Rock,” hosted by the National Park Service and Photo Alliance of San Francisco, these photographers were granted unprecedented access, even staying overnight in the main cellblock. The resulting pictures present diverse visions of beauty in decay. They highlight the eerie, almost supernatural mood of the former prison, bringing texture to its historical artifacts and architecture, and evoking the extreme isolation and despair of inmates whose only remaining traces are suggestions of blood spatters and scratches on the walls. Hidden Alcatraz includes a foreword by actor Peter Coyote, who was present during the 1971 occupation by members of the American Indian Movement, and an introduction by John Martini, one of the island’s first park rangers and an expert on its history.
Steve Fritz is a fine art photographer who has had numerous solo and group shows. Deborah Roundtree is creative director and principal of Roundtree Visuals, an art consulting firm. Her group and solo exhibitions include the London Museum of Science, the Sydney Opera House, and New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
“The Rock is the star of a thousand postcards, yet "Hidden Alcatraz" makes the scene stark and fresh.”—John King San Francisco Chronicle
“The next best thing to a tour of Alcatraz could be this startling photographic look at ‘the Fortress.’”—Allen Pierleoni Sacramento Bee
“Alcatraz continues to fascinate, and this collection beautifully captures the physical decay that, at last, matches its wretched soul.”—Library Journal
“The project's blend of artistic vision, with contributors both amateur and distinguished, creates a diverse and dynamic perspective. Sempere and Fritz are disciples of the "documentary tradition," capturing desolate cells, haunting graffiti, and interiors flooded with natural light. Michel Venera's depiction is decidedly gothic, while Roundtree's patience and expertise yields ethereal beauty. Linda Hanson's ominous Bars, A Random Corridor, No Way Out; Even The Light Is Blocked resonates in both visual and narrative terms. Individual techniques and experiences on Alcatraz are integral to this cadaverous study, simultaneously supporting the art of photography and providing a new insight to this enigmatic American institution.”—Publishers Weekly
“An amazing collection of 100 photographs taken by thirty-four photographers. . . . The images evoke the extreme isolation and despair of the inmates, with the only remaining traces blood splatters, scratches on the walls, graffiti—and a physical decay—where the viewer can only wonder at the art of the photographs, which teeter between documentary style and symbolic art.”—Phil Semler San Francisco Book Review
“The foggy island fortress of Alcatraz is one of America’s most legendary spots. From its infamous inmates to its spine-tingling ghost stories, The Rock has gained mythic power in our collective imagination. In this volume, the prison is revealed for what it is today, both the remnants of what once was and the ghostly interpretations of what mysteries it still holds. Thirty-four photographers contributed to the project; their images range from lovely and idyllic to bone-chilling and creepy. As such, this collection presents a comprehensive view of the iconic island and contributes greatly to the visual representation of the myth.”—Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler Photographer’s Forum
“This collection of photographs is at once beautiful and haunting. It captures the unique mood of this small but fabled rock anchored off of that small but fabled city of San Francisco. Anyone who knows of the legend of Alcatraz will want this book.”

Gray Brechin, historical geographer and author of Farewell, Promised Land and Imperial San Francisco

“The photographers were not just tourists to 'the Rock.' Their unique access enabled them to become participants in an evolving history and address the experience of over two hundred years of human occupation on this fascinating island.”

Mark Klett, photographer, After the Ruins, 1906 and 2006: Rephotographing the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire
Loading the player ...
Play audio

Audio file of the foreward to Hidden Alcatraz by Peter Coyote

<p>Page 21: Sempere, Observation Tower</p> <p>Page 25: Sempere, Late Night Fog</p> <p>Page 28: Fritz, Lighthouse</p> <p>Page 33: Katzman, The Guard’s Tunnel</p> <p>Page 36: Venera, Untitled</p> <p>Page 37: Orlov, Laundry Room</p> <p>Page 39: Fritz: Graffiti</p> <p>Page 50: Venera, Untitled</p> <p>Page 54: Chang: Turquoise Grid</p> <p>Page 56: Franzel: The Warden’s House</p> <p>Page 60: Campbell: The Chef’s Office</p> <p>Page 61: Roundtree: Kitchen Knives</p> <p>Page 64: Fritz: Room with No View</p> <p>Page 68: Franzel: Hospital Room</p> <p>Page 69: Hanson, Death Hospital Bed</p> <p>Page 86: Dawson, Lighthouse with Thom</p> <p>Page 92: Katzman, From the Exercise Yard</p> <p>Page 94: Venera, Untitled</p> <p>Page 103: Linn, The North Periphery</p>

Join UC Press

Members receive 20-40% discounts on book purchases. Find out more