Gordon Parks described his camera as his choice of weapons, and he used photography incisively throughout his career, exposing the bifurcation of the American way of life and seeking to mediate between groups in a deeply divided society. As an important chronicler of the fight for equal rights for African Americans, he dealt with topics—poverty, marginalization, injustice—that continue to be relevant today.
Gordon Parks profiled leaders of the civil rights movement, such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Muhammad Ali, but also famous figures from the arts, such as Duke Ellington, Ingrid Bergman, and Alberto Giacometti. He created fashion spreads for Condé Nast and Life magazine in the 1940s and 1950s, at the same time he was capturing stories of segregation in the American South and youthful unrest in Harlem. Besides his more popular film work, which included “The Learning Tree“ and “Shaft“, he produced numerous documentaries. With its grasp of both glamour and misery, commercial interest and humanitarian commitment, Gordon Parks’ work offers an incomparable visual social history of the United States in the twentieth century.
This exhibition, presented in partnership with The Gordon Parks Foundation, counts some 150 different works from the Foundation’s collection —vintage prints, contact sheets, magazines, and films—considers Gordon Parks’ photographic and cinematic work together. After Berlin, the exhibition will travel to FOAM in Amsterdam and the Kunstfoyer in Munich. A companion catalogue will be published by Steidl Verlag and The Gordon Parks Foundation.