During the 1940s, American photographer Gordon Parks (1912–2006) grew from a self-taught photographer making portraits and documenting everyday life in Saint Paul and Chicago to a visionary professional shooting for Ebony, Glamour, Smart Woman, and Life. For the first time, the formative first decade of Parks’s 60-year career is the focus of an exhibition, which brings together 150 photographs and ephemera—including magazines, books, letters, and family pictures. The exhibition will illustrate Parks’s early experiences at the Farm Security Administration, Office of War Information, and Standard Oil (New Jersey), as well as his close relationships with Roy Stryker, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison and reveal how these helped shape his groundbreaking style. A catalog with extensive new research and previously unpublished images accompanies the exhibition.
The exhibition is curated by Philip Brookman, Consulting Curator, Department of Photographs, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in collaboration with The Gordon Parks Foundation.