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Gordon Parks Photography

American, 1912-2006

From the early 1940s to the 2000s, Gordon Parks chronicled the complexities of American life, revealing both its inequalities and beauty. A self-taught creator, Parks became one of the leading artists of the 20th century in his photography, filmmaking, writing and music.

Parks was born in 1912 in Fort Scott, Kansas, where his family scraped by, his father working as a tenant farmer and the children attending segregated schools. As he wrote in his 1966 autobiography Choice of Weapons, the “indignities came so often I began to accept them as normal. Yet I always fought back.” The racism and discrimination he experienced would shape his photography, in which he saw an opportunity for images to make a difference against intolerance.

Parks acquired his first camera in 1938 from a Seattle pawnshop. He was inspired by photographers such as Dorothea Lange, whose compelling depictions of the Great Depression he had seen in magazines left behind by passengers on the train where he worked as a waiter.

By 1940, Parks had his own portrait studio in Chicago, having worked his way up through gigs including photographing clothing for a local store. Awarded a Julius Rosenwald Fund fellowship, he apprenticed for the Farm Security Administration. From there he became the United States Office of War Information’s first Black photographer, a pioneering role in which he’d also found himself at magazines such as Vogue and Life. Through the 1970s, he was prolific with print publication features that covered issues like racial segregation in the South as well as fashion shoots.

In 1969, Parks made his entry into film, writing and directing the semi-autobiographical The Learning Tree, a debut that made him the first Black director of a major Hollywood movie. He followed it with the iconic blaxploitation film Shaft in 1971. A versatile innovator, Parks also composed music for projects such as the 1989 Martin ballet — a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. — and in 1981 he exhibited his abstract oil paintings at New York’s Alex Rosenberg Gallery.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Corcoran Gallery of Art and the International Center of Photography have all presented solo shows of Parks’s photography. While he tirelessly documented the world with empathy and a critical eye for more than five decades, Parks’s rich legacy of using art as a powerful tool of change will resonate for much longer.

Find original Gordon Parks photography today on 1stDibs.

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Artist: Gordon Parks
Emerging Man, Harlem, 1952
By Gordon Parks
Located in New York, NY
Signed in pencil print verso
Category

1950s Gordon Parks Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Untitled, 1957
By Gordon Parks
Located in New York, NY
1957, printed later Ed of 7
Category

Mid-20th Century Contemporary Gordon Parks Photography

Materials

Archival Pigment

Untitled, Harlem, New York, 1952
By Gordon Parks
Located in New York, NY
Gelatin silver print 20 x 16 inches Edition of 15
Category

1950s Gordon Parks Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Farm, road, and telephone lines. 1950
By Gordon Parks
Located in Santa Fe, NM
Gordon Parks. Farm, road, and telephone lines. c. 1950. Vintage gelatin silver print. Parks' LIFE credit stamp verso, and the same numeric notation twice, once in pencil and once in...
Category

Mid-20th Century Gordon Parks Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Fishing boats in the harbor, Gloucester, MA, June 1943
By Gordon Parks
Located in Santa Fe, NM
Gordon Parks. Fishing boats in the harbor, Gloucester, MA. June 1943. Vintage gelatin silver contact print. Signed on print verso by Gordon Parks.
Category

Early 20th Century Gordon Parks Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Related Items
Untitled, Harlem, New York, 1952
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Untitled, Providence, Rhode Island (P.561)
By Francesca Woodman
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Francesca Woodman Untitled, Providence, Rhode Island (P.561), 1978 Estate gelatin silver print Image: 5.5 x 5.5 inches Paper: 8 x 10 inches Edition of 40 Signed and numbered verso
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California Kiss, Santa Monica, California
By Elliott Erwitt
Located in New York, NY
California Kiss, Santa Monica, California, 1955; printed later Silver gelatin print 20 x 24 inches
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Mermaid
By Michael Dweck
Located in New York, NY
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Wendy at Panoramic View, Montauk,
By Michael Dweck
Located in New York, NY
Wendy at Panoramic View, Montauk, 2002 Selenium toned gelatin silver 32 x 40 inches Edition of 6 49 x 60 inches Edition of 5
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Brooklyn Gang Kathy fixing her hair in a cigarette machine mirror, Coney Island
By Bruce Davidson
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Brooklyn Gang Kathy fixing her hair in a cigarette machine mirror, Coney Island, New York 20 x 24 inches
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1950s Gordon Parks Photography

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Girl in a coat lying on her bed, N.Y.C
By Diane Arbus
Located in New York, NY
Girl in a coat lying on her bed, N.Y.C., 1968 Gelatin silver print Image: 14.5 x 14.5 inches Sheet: 20 x 16 inches Edition of 75 Signed verso in ink by Doon Arbus, for the Estate of ...
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1960s Gordon Parks Photography

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Untitled
By Cindy Sherman
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Man in Suit, Woman in Fur Coat
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Sunday afternoon we get it together...
By Bill Owens
Located in New York, NY
"Sunday afternoon we get it together. I cook the steaks and my wife makes the salad." 1972, printed later paper size: 14 x 11 inches image size: 12 x 9 inches framed size: 18.5 x 15....
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1970s Gordon Parks Photography

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Jessica and Kurt 2, Montauk
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Jessica and Kurt 2, Montauk, 2002 selenium toned gelatin silver 32 x 40 inches Edition of 6
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Previously Available Items
American Gothic
By Gordon Parks
Located in New York, NY
Gelatin silver print Signed and inscribed in black ink, recto 14 x 11 inches, sheet size This artwork is offered by ClampArt, located in New York City. Image: courtesy and copyrigh...
Category

1940s Other Art Style Gordon Parks Photography

Materials

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Woman and Dog in Window, Harlem from the Rede Leonardo Portfolio
By Gordon Parks
Located in New York, NY
1943; printed 2016 archival pigment print 20 x 16 inches Edition of 20 stamped, signed and numbered by the Gordon Parks Foundation
Category

1940s Gordon Parks Photography

Materials

Archival Pigment

Gordon Parks photography for sale on 1stDibs

Find wide variety of authentic Gordon Parks photography available for sale on 1stDibs. You can also search for art by Gordon Parks in silver gelatin print, archival pigment print, pigment print and more by medium. Much of the original work by this artist or collective was created during the 20th Century and is mostly associated with the Contemporary style. Not every interior allows for large Gordon Parks photography, so small editions measuring 11 inches across are available. Customers who are interested in this artist might also find the work of Joe Zammit-Lucia, Ed Ruscha and Nancy Sinatra Sr. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $NaN and tops out at $NaN, while the average work can sell for $NaN...

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