NEW YORK—Gordon Parks (1912-2006) would have been 100 this year and several institutions are celebrating the groundbreaking work of the legendary Life magazine photographer to mark the occasion. The International Center of Photography, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Howard Greenberg Gallery are among those paying tribute to Parks, who was also a writer, musician and a the first black filmmaker to director a major movie in Hollywood.
The Howard Greenberg Gallery is hosting two exhibits of Parks photographs. “Centennial,” is a retrospective featuring images from significant projects throughout his career and “Contact: Gordon Parks, Ralph Ellison and ‘Invisible Man,’” is curated by artist Glenn Ligon.
In the main gallery, “Centennial” emphasizes why Parks is so revered. His portraits and coverage of an incredibly wide range of social and historic events is unrivaled, what the Phoenix Art Museum called the “the crossroads of the glamourous and the ghetto.” “Centennial” includes images of Muhammad Ali, Ingrid Bergman and Malcolm X and the black Muslim movement, portraits from fashion shoots for Vogue, and documentary images of poverty in the slums of Rio de Janeiro and the nation’s capital, as well as previously unpublished photos of African Americans in the segregated South recently discovered by Parks’s foundation, included the 1956 image “Untitled, Mobile, Alabama,” show above.
“Contact” features “Invisible Man,” a series of photographs by Parks that appeared in Life magazine when Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel of the same name was published. The photos address the social and racial issues explored in the book and even recreates some specific scenes on the streets of Harlem. The exhibit showcases Parks’s wax pencil-marked contact sheets enabling viewers to gain insight into his editing choices and cropping decisions.
The Parks exhibits will be on view at Howard Greenberg Gallery from Sept. 14 to Oct. 27, 2012.
All photos © Arts Observer
Above, Clockwise from left, “Malcolm X Addressing Black Muslim Rally in Chicago,” 1963 (gelatin silver print); “Untitled,” 1963 (gelatin silver print); and “Muslim Boys Selling Newspaper,” 1963 (gelatin silver print).
From left, “Knife Wielder, Chicago,” 1957 (Fujicolor crystal archive) and “Drug Search, Chicago,” 1957 (Fujicolor crystal archive) hang above copies of Life magazine that feature photo essays by Gordon Parks.
From left, “Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama,” 1956 (pigment print); “Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton, Mobile, Alabama,” 1956 (pigment print); and “Mother and Children, Mobile, Alabama,” 1956 (pigment print).