Gordon Parks (1912-2006) was born into a poor Kansas family in 1912, where he was the youngest of 15 children. But he would go on to become a towering figure in the world of photography during the twentieth century, working as a staff photographer for Life magazine for more than 20 years, from 1948 to 1970. But he would also become a pioneer in the world of filmmaking, becoming the first African American to write and direct a major studio feature, “The Learning Tree,” based on his semi-autobiographical novel.
The works in this exhibition—on view at Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York City—are intriguing, in part, because they explore the roots of Parks’ future as a filmmaker, revealing the artist’s cinematic approach via his still photography and photo essays. The show includes some of the Parks’ most celebrated works, including photographs Parks made while embedded with the New York gang leader “Red” Jackson in 1948 as well as images of the Fontenelles, a Harlem family that struggled to feed their eight children in 1967.
It’s an exhibition that aims to draw connections from how Parks documented American life and culture, which focused on social justice, race relations, the civil rights movement, and the African American experience, and how this would emerge during the work he did as a filmmaker.
Where: Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York