Alison Jacques Gallery is proud to now represent The Gordon Parks Foundation, which preserves Parks’ creative works and archive and advances his legacy through a range of educational programming. Following a presentation at Art Basel 2019, the gallery will also stage a solo presentation of the artist’s work at Frieze Masters 2019 and a solo exhibition in 2020.
Parks is recognised as the most significant African American photographer of the 20th century, as well as an influential writer, composer, and filmmaker. Born into poverty and segregation in Kansas in 1912, Parks was drawn to photography as a young man. Despite his lack of professional training, Parks quickly developed a style that would make him one of the most celebrated photographers of his age, allowing him to break the colour line in professional photography while consistently exploring the social and economic impact of racism.
His 1948 photo essay on the life of a Harlem gang leader won him widespread acclaim and a position as the first African American staff photographer and writer for Life. Parks would remain at Life for two decades, chronicling subjects related to racism and poverty, as well as taking notable portraits including Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and Stokely Carmichael. His images capture the essence of activism and humanitarianism in mid-twentieth century America and defined their era for later generations. They also rallied support for the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement, for which Parks himself was a tireless advocate as well as a documentarian.
Parks spent much of the last three decades of his life expanding his style; he continued working up until his death in 2006, winning numerous awards, including the National Medal of Arts in 1988, and over fifty honorary doctorates. He was also a noted composer and author, and in 1969, became the first African American to write and direct a Hollywood feature film based on his bestselling novel The Learning Tree. This was followed in 1971 by the hugely successful motion picture Shaft.
Important exhibitions include: The Flávio Story, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2019); Gordon Parks: The New Tide, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2018-19); I Am You: Selected Works 1942-1978, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, Frankfurt (2017-18); Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (2016) and A Harlem Family 1967, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2012-13).
Parks’ work has been acquired by major museums including: The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati; Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit; International Center of Photography, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond