Gordon Parks: The Making of an Argument
September 12, 2013 – January 19, 2014
Gordon Parks: The Making of an Argument explores the production of Parks’ first photographic essay, “Harlem Gang Leader,” for Life magazine in 1948. The exhibition will include vintage photographs, original issues of Life magazine, contact sheets and proof prints all made available by The Gordon Parks Foundation.
In 1948, Gordon Parks began a professional relationship with Life magazine that would last twenty-two 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, twenty-one pictures were selected for reproduction in a graphic and adventurous layout in Life magazine.
Curator Russell Lord notes, “By the time the reader opened the pages of Life magazine, the addition of text, and the reader’s own biases further rendered the original argument into a fractured, multi-layered affair. The process leads to many questions: ‘What was the intended argument?’ and ‘Whose argument was it?’.” Gordon Parks: The Making of an Argument examines these questions through a close study of how Parks’ first Life picture essay was conceived, constructed and received
Admission: $10; Seniors and Students, $8; Children 7-17 $6; Children 6 and under, free. Wednesdays are free for all museum visitors.