Sat 3/23-Sun 6/9
Photographer Gordon Parks (1912-2006) was one of the 20th century’s greatest photojournalists. While he did other types of work, he’s best known for his photos from the 1940s-1970s, covering the civil rights movement as well as the every-day lives of black Americans, that he, as an African-American, was able to access intimately. (He also directed one of the defining films of the 70s “blaxploitation” genre, Shaft.)
In 1940 he moved to Chicago, just as that city’s black arts and culture scene was enjoying a heyday, where he interacted with artists, writers and performers who were part of the scene on the city’s south side. Later in the decade, he moved to D.C. where he did work for the government and eventually to Harlem, where he established himself as a photographer for Vogue and Life by the end of the decade. He photographed for Life for more than two decades, shooting celebrities, sports and fashion, in addition to his powerful reportage on the effects of segregation.
This week the Cleveland Museum of Art opens Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940–1950, showing how his work developed during that impactful decade of his life. The traveling show was put together by the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and the Gordon Parks Foundation. It will be on view through Sun 6/9