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Events 2012

Gordon Parks Centennial

Gordon Parks in Paris circa 1949 (Photo Gordon Parks Foundation)

Gordon Parks in Paris circa 1949 (Photo Gordon Parks Foundation)

In honor of the centennial year of Gordon Parks' birth (1912-2006), the exhibition presented surveys his best known images. Widely recognized as the most important and influential African-American photographer of the twentieth century, Parks combined a unique documentary and artistic style with a profound commitment to social justice.

Working first for the American Depression-era Farm Security Administration, and later for the immensely popular magazine Life, he specialized in covering stories important to people’s lives, often in depth through extended narrative photo essays.

Crime, poverty, segregation, and the politics of race and class: these were just some of the subjects he addressed with his camera. At the same time, Parks was remarkably versatile, traveling the world to photograph features and news events, fashion and beauty, and the worlds of art, literature, music, theater, and film.

The first African-American director to helm a major motion picture, he introduced the Blaxploitation genre through his film Shaft (1971). Gordon Parks’ photographs are remembered today not only for the great influence they had in the American culture of the 1940s through 1970s, but for their lasting resonance—as potent reminders of the important stories and vivid personalities that make up our shared history.