Published by Steidl/The Gordon Parks Foundation/The Art Institute of Chicago. Foreword by Peter W. Kunhardt Jr., Douglas Druick. Introduction by Matthew S. Witkovsky, John F. Callahan. Text by Michal Raz-Russo, Jean-Christophe Cloutier.
It is relatively unknown that the photographer Gordon Parks was close friends with Ralph Ellison, author of the acclaimed 1952 novel Invisible Man. Even less known is the fact that their common vision of racial injustices, coupled with a shared belief in the communicative power of photography, inspired collaboration on two important projects, in 1948 and 1952. Capitalizing on the growing popularity of the picture press, Parks and Ellison first joined forces on an essay titled "Harlem Is Nowhere" for ‘48: The Magazine of the Year. Conceived while Ellison was already three years into writing Invisible Man, this illustrated essay was centered on the Lafargue Clinic, the first non-segregated psychiatric clinic in New York City, as a case study for the social and economic conditions in Harlem. He chose Parks to create the accompanying photographs, and during the winter of 1948, the two roamed the streets of Harlem, with Parks photographing under the guidance of Ellison’s writing. In 1952 the two collaborated again on "A Man Becomes Invisible" for the August 25 issue of Life, which promoted Ellison’s newly released novel. This is the first publication on Parks’ and Ellison’s two collaborations, one of which was lost, while the other was published only in reduced form. Gordon Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1912. In addition to his storied tenures photographing for the Farm Security Administration (1941–45) and Life (1948–72), Parks found success as a film director, introducing Blaxploitation through his film Shaft (1971). Parks died in 2006. Ralph Ellison was born in Oklahoma City in 1913. He enrolled at Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute in Macon County, Alabama, as a music major and later turned to writing essays and short stories for publications such as New Masses, The Negro Quarterly, The New Republic and Saturday Review. Invisible Man won the National Book Award in 1953. Ellison published two collections of essays: Shadow and Act (1964) and Going to the Territory (1986). He died in 1994.
Published by Steidl. Foreword by Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr. Introduction by Isabel Wilkerson. Text by Karen Haas.
The first African American photographer to be hired full time by Life magazine, Gordon Parks was often sent on assignments involving social issues that his white colleagues were not asked to cover. In 1950 he returned on one such assignment to his hometown of Fort Scott in southeastern Kansas: he was to provide photographs for a piece on segregated schools and their impact on black children in the years prior to Brown v. Board of Education. Parks intended to revisit early memories of his birthplace, many involving serious racial discrimination, and to discover what had become of the 11 members of his junior high school graduation class since his departure 20 years earlier. But when he arrived only one member of the class remained in Fort Scott, the rest having followed the well-worn paths of the Great Migration in search of better lives in urban centers such as St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbus and Chicago. Heading out to those cities Parks found his friends and their families and photographed them on their porches, in their parlors and dining rooms, on their way to church and working at their jobs, and interviewed them about their decision to leave the segregated system of their youth and head north. His resulting photo essay was slated to appear in Life in the spring of 1951, but was ultimately never published. This book showcases the 80-photo series in a single volume for the first time, offering a sensitive and visually arresting view of our country's racialized history. Gordon Parks (1912–2006) was born into poverty and segregation in Fort Scott, Kansas. The self-taught photographer also found success as a film director, author and composer. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts and over 50 honorary degrees.
Published by Steidl. Foreword by Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., Brett Abbott. Introduction by Charlayne Hunter-Gault. Text by Maurice Berger.
In September 1956, Life magazine published a photo-essay by Gordon Parks entitled "The Restraints: Open and Hidden," which documented the everyday activities and rituals of one extended African American family living in the rural South under Jim Crow segregation. One of the most powerful photographs depicts Joanne Thornton Wilson and her niece, Shirley Anne Kirksey, standing in front of a theater in Mobile, Alabama, an image which became a forceful "weapon of choice," as Parks would say, in the struggle against racism and segregation. While 26 photographs were eventually published in Life and some were exhibited in his lifetime, the bulk of Parks' assignment was thought to be lost. In 2011, five years after Parks' death, The Gordon Parks Foundation discovered more than 70 color transparencies at the bottom of an old storage bin marked "Segregation Series" that are now published for the first time in Segregation Story.
Published by Steidl. Edited by Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr. and Paul Roth. Text by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Deborah Willis, Maurice Berger, Barbara Baker Burrows, Paul Roth, and Gordon Parks.
This five-volume collection surveys five decades of Gordon Parks' photography. It is the most extensive publication to document his legendary career. 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 Farm Security Administration and later for Life magazine, he specialized in extended narrative picture stories on difficult subject matter. Covering crime, poverty, segregation, the politics of race and class and controversial personalities, Parks became legendary for his ability to meld penetrating insight with a lyrical aesthetic. He was thus able to introduce a broad and diverse public to people, issues and ideas they might otherwise have ignored. Parks was remarkably versatile, travelling the world to photograph news events and fashion, as well as the worlds of art, literature, music, theatre and film. Later in life, he reconceived his vision in fundamentally personal and poetic terms, producing color photographs that were allusive rather than descriptive, symbolic rather than literal.
In 1948, Gordon Parks began his professional relationship with Life magazine that would last 22 years. For his first project, he proposed a series of pictures about the gang wars that were then plaguing Harlem, believing that if he could draw attention to the problem then perhaps it would be addressed through social programs or government intervention. As a result of his efforts, Parks gained the trust of one particular group of gang members and their leader, Leonard Red Jackson, and produced a series of pictures of them that are artful, emotive, poignant, touching and sometimes shocking. From this larger body of work, 21 pictures were selected for reproduction in a graphic and adventurous layout in Life magazine. At each step of the selection process--as Parks chose each shot, or as the picture editors at Life re-selected from his selection--any intended narrative was complicated by another curatorial voice. Featuring contact sheets, proof prints and the published Life article, Gordon Parks: The Making of an Argument traces this editorial process and parses out the various voices and motives behind the production of the picture essay. Co-published by The Gordon Parks Foundation and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Published by Steidl. Edited by Thelma Golden, Elizabeth Gwinn, Lauren Haynes. Foreword by Raymond J. McGuire.
A Harlem Family 1967 honors the legacy and the work of late iconic artist and photojournalist Gordon Parks, who would have turned 100 on November 30, 2012. The exhibition catalogue is co-published by The Studio Museum in Harlem and The Gordon Parks Foundation and features approximately 80 black-and-white photographs of the Fontenelle family, whose lives Gordon Parks documented as part of a 1968 Life magazine photo essay. A searing portrait of poverty in the United States, the Fontenelle photographs provide a view of Harlem through the narrative of a specific family at a particular moment in time.