GORDON PARKS WITH SOME OF HIS FAVOURITE TOYS
“I’m in a sense sort of a rare bird,” Mr. Parks said in an interview in The New York Times in 1997. “I suppose a lot of it depended on my determination not to let discrimination stop me.” He never forgot that one of his teachers told her students not to waste their parents’ money on college because they would end up as porters or maids anyway. He dedicated one honorary degree to her because he had been so eager to prove her wrong.
“I had a great sense of curiosity and a great sense of just wanting to achieve,” he said. “I just forgot I was black and walked in and asked for a job and tried to be prepared for what I was asking for.” (+)
This is the last post of the Gordon Parks series to commemorate the centennial of his birth. I hope you enjoyed the posts!
Of course I could only scratch the surface, there are so much more pictures and stories that would’ve been worth posting: his crime pictures, the Fontenelle Family essay, photos shot in Europe, the Harlem Riot series, more of his wonderful portraits and fashion photographs, …
If you want to see more of his work there are several possibilites:
Maybe you can understand now why he’s one of my favourite photographers: not only the amazing quality of his pictures but also the way he lived his life make me take my hat off to him.
HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY MR. PARKS, MAY YOUR SOUL REST IN PEACE!
I saw above portrait so many times while researching for the Gordon Parks series on my blog, but always unattributed. Thanks to “Image Search” I could attribute this wonderful portrait to Fern Logan.
Fern Logan’s collection of photographic portraits documents the emergence of the African American artist into mainstream American art. Her book “The Artist Portrait Series - Images of Contemporary African American Artists” captures sixty significant artists from the late twentieth century. Each rich duotone portrait is accompanied by Logan’s commentary on the artist.
Logan began her career as a nature, landscape, and architectural photographer, but in 1983, resolving to put the human figure into her repertoire, she created the photodocumentary “The Artist Portrait Series”. Her philosophy of art as an educational tool prompted her to document the accomplishments of such highly skilled visual artists as Gordon Parks, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Roy DeCarava, and Romare Bearden. Logan expanded the project to promote recognition for prominent black artists in theater, television, film, music, dance, and literature, including Alvin Ailey, Maya Angelou, and Adolph Caesar. Her subjects include well-known artists as well as those who were emerging at the time they were photographed. (+)
Visit Fern Logan’s website for more pictures.
Publishers Weekly wrote in 2001:
When photographer Fern Logan was an art student in the 1970s, African-American artists were represented in academia even less well than today. To rectify this blanket omission, Logan embarked in the mid-’80s on “The Artist Portrait Series: Images of Contemporary African American Artists”.
In her introduction, Deborah Willis, curator at the Center for African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution, writes, “Logan’s portraits ‘unfix’ the ‘shadows’ of photographic construction to reveal (…) the self-construction of the sitter.”
“Originally part of an assignment to design pocket flashers for men’s khakis, senior designer Lisa Prisco presented me with a small mock-up simply stating, “James Dean wore khakis”. Our boss Maggie Gross, gave us the go ahead to turn the idea into a full-fledge campaign, with ads in national magazines, outdoor media and of course, on pocket flashers.” (Laurie Kanes, former Director of Creative Services / The Gap)
More GAP khaki ads (source): Andy Warhol, Miles Davis, Pablo Picasso:
I guess the Adolf Hitler “ad” was not part of the GAP campagne.
“What a hideous colour khaki is.” (Aldous Huxley, Brave New World)
From one of America’s greatest women (Rosa Parks; see previous post) to one of America’s greatest men (& one of my favourite photographers):
Gordon Parks would have turned 100 this November 30. He was one of the seminal figures of twentieth century photography. A humanitarian with a deep commitment to social justice, he left behind a body of work that documents many of the most important aspects of American culture from the early 1940s up until his death in 2006, with a focus on race relations, poverty, Civil Rights, and urban life.
To honor this wonderful artist I will present a lot of his work & stories about him in the next days, I hope you enjoy it!
“I’ve been asked if I think there will ever come a time when all people come together. I would like to think there will. All we can do is hope and dream and work toward that end. And that’s what I’ve tried to do all my life.” (Gordon Parks)
A true twentieth century Renaissance man, Gordon Parks is one of the most prolific and diverse artists in America today. A preeminent photographer, poet, novelist, composer and filmmaker, Parks’s artisitc vision knows no boundaries. This candid portrait of the artist is a journey throught the watershed moments on America’s social history, punctuated by Parks’ seminal works and his unique ability to follow his instincts to the most fascinating and challenging places in the world.
If you have 90 minutes of free time: sit back and watch this wonderful documentary about one of the most amazing American photographers of all time. Here’s a small excerpt:
“I was born dead. Our family doctor (…) had pronounced me dead and wrapped me up in a sheet and put me aside. He had a young assistant by the name of Gordon - he asked the doctor if he could try something. So he called my sisters, and they got a tub of water, and he asked them to get a chunk of ice out of the ice box, and he dunked me into the cold water and rubbed me against the ice, and I began to holler. And I’ve been hollering ever since…” (Gordon Parks)
(thanks to / via: devivre)
“When I first began photographing, I benefited from the advice of teachers of photography and also seeing photographs that resonated for me. I liked taking “pretty pictures” as Cornell Capa called them and I started photographing because of the beauty of my own children. It wasn’t until Capa asked me what I wanted to say with my photographs that I was able to direct my concerns about society and also to photograph those photographers whose work I admired.
It was intimidating and unsettling to approach a photographer whose work was published or appeared in museums and was well known for his or her talent and art. Once I summoned the courage to ask if I could take their photograph, I discovered the more famous they were, the nicer they were to me and tried to put me at ease. The photographers were also instructive. When I was photographing Gordon Parks, he sat down in a chair and I was standing in front of him. He asked, “Why are you always looking down?” and suggested a lower vantage point, which is the picture you see above.”
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