Gordon Parks

Welcome to the latest edition of Legends Online. PDN and Kodak Professional are proud to present a glimpse into the extraordinary life and work of renowned American artist Gordon Parks, who, at 88, has managed to do it all—including writing poetry, and composing and performing piano music—quite masterfully. Having worn many creative hats during his lifetime, Parks's uplifting message of hope in the face of adversity continues to carry through in whatever he does.
© Gordon Parks
"Those people who want to use a camera should have something in mind, there's something they want to show, something they want to say...," Parks explains. "I picked up a camera because it was my choice of weapons against what I hated most about the universe: racism, intolerance, poverty.
"Kodak has been behind me from the start... from my first gallery show... and has been instrumental in being there for me throughout my photographic career." (Gordon Parks)

Gordon Parks performs an original composition from A Star For Noon
I could have just as easily picked up a knife or a gun, like many of my childhood friends did... most of whom were murdered or put in prison... but I chose not to go that way. I felt that I could somehow subdue these evils by doing something beautiful that people recognize me by, and thus make a whole different life for myself, which has proved to be so."

Parks, best known as a photojournalist, nonetheless has a portfolio of images that range broadly in subject matter and serve as distinct markers in American history: from haunting images of gang warfare in Harlem and turbulent Black Panther meetings to the height of haute couture for Vogue and recent colorful landscapes and still lifes that juxtapose color, light and shape. "I have loved all of the various aspects of photography," Parks says. "They've kept me alive and in pursuit of something special."

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We've included a GALLERY of Parks's images with excerpts from an interview conducted by PDN, a brief BIOGRAPHY of his life and VIDEO CLIPS of Parks talking about specific images from his 50-year retrospective book Half Past Autumn: A Retrospective (Bulfinch Press) and touching on his upcoming book of nudes, A Star For Noon (September 2000, Bulfinch Press), which combines his love of women, music and photography.

In September 1997, the photographer's 50-year retrospective "Half Past Autumn: The Art of Gordon Parks" went on view at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. (sponsored by Time Warner and Ford Motor Company), and has since traveled that time all over the country. Currently, the exhibit is at the New Orleans Museum of Art through August 27. The next dates are: the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, October 13-December 30; the Cincinnati Art Museum, February-April, 2001; the Chicago Historical Society, October-December, 2001; Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, TN, February-April, 2002; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA, October-December, 2002. On November 30, 2000, HBO will air a documentary on Parks. For furthur information on Gordon Parks, contact Johanna Fiore.

Notice: All of the photographs displayed on this site are ©Gordon Parks/courtesy of the Howard Greenberg Gallery. You may not sell, publish, license or otherwise distribute any of these photographs without the written permission of the photographer.

© 2000 PDN
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