Parks Gordon
Actress Ingrid Bergman attracts the curiosity of local villagers, on location for the movie Stromboli (1950).
Parks Gordon
Marché de la Rue Mouffetard, Paris

Gordon Parks

About the artist

1912 — 2006

Gordon Parks was an American photojournalist and film director primarily known for a body of work that reflected his deep commitment to social justice. His portfolio, shot between 1940 and 2000, documented American life and culture, with a particular focus on race, civil rights and life for African Americans. He was also a key figure in the creation of the blaxploitant film genre, popularised in the seventies, which gave a voice to black directors at a time when only a small handful had found success within a deeply racist studio system.

Born in Kansas in 1912, Parks' childhood was traumatic: his mother died when he was thirteen, and at fifteen he was homeless. He took a variety of jobs to survive, from pianist to semi-pro basketball player, eventually diving into photography with a Voigtländer Brillant. In Chicago, Parks made a living from freelance portraiture with a sideline in fashion photography. He would go on to work for Vogue in New York, while continuing his photojournalism for Life magazine for a quarter-century, shooting portraits of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, among many other key cultural figures of the era.

He went on to author books on documentary photography, found Essence magazine for an audience of African-American women and, in 1971, direct the major box office smash Shaft. All the while, Parks continued shooting for Vogue, breaking barriers for black artists in journalism, fashion and cinema, and later being cited as a major inspiration for artists from Spike Lee to Kendrick Lamar. This is the legacy Parks, who died in 2006, leaves behind: a multi-talented artist from humble beginnings who found a way to break through and demand the attention, and respect, of a society then deeply divided, in turn inspiring other multi-talented artists to continue his life's work.

In recent years Parks has been exhibited globally, from Kansas City to Warsaw. The Gordon Parks Award for Black Excellence in Filmmaking was established in 2021.

Technical information

Image 1: Actress Ingrid Bergman attracts the curiosity of local women in the village where she is on location for the movie ‘Stromboli’, 1949
Size: 51 x 60 cm 
Print techique: modern print on Hahnemühle baryta paper, Piezography processing
Extra: Black wooden frame and mat, special edition 1/1, embossed stamp, certificate on the back of the frame 

Image 2: Marché de la Rue Mouffetard, Paris. 1950
Size: 5,8 x 5,3 (contact); 6 x 6 (négatif); 40 x 30 cm 
Print techique: photograph, silver print 
Extra: stamp on the reverse