The Amon Carter Museum of American Art will reopen its newly renovated galleries with a blockbuster of an exhibition next fall. "Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940-1950" is the first display chronicling the formative beginnings of the American photographer who broke barriers. It will go on display September 14-December 29, 2019.
Organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington (where the exhibition just closed), in collaboration with The Gordon Parks Foundation, the exhibit "showcases Parks’s mastery of the camera to create an uplifting vision of African-American life at the mid-20th century," the Carter says in a release.
Parks (1912–2006) was a pioneering African-American photographer who considered his work of the 1940s and ’50s to be the catalyst for a deeply influential 60-year career that stretched from photography to writing and filmmaking, the museum notes. "Within this first decade, Parks grew from a self-taught portrait photographer in Minneapolis and Saint Paul into an influential photojournalist working in New York for such magazines as Ebony and Glamour," the release says. He also became the first black staff photographer at Life magazine in 1949.
"Incorporating extensive new research and many rarely seem images, Gordon Parks traces his rapid evolution while examining the expanding role of mass media in visual culture and documentary photography’s essential contributions to the American civil rights movement," the release says.
Carter museum Executive Director Andrew J. Walker adds, "Gordon Parks was a visionary photographer whose work had a lasting impact on the world."
Parks was part of what his friend and author Richard Wright called "the new tide" of African-Americans, who pushed for respect and racial equality in the 1940s, says John Rohrbach, the Carter’s senior curator of photographs. “A consummate professional, he added finely wrought photography to the struggle for social justice, creating a model for generations to come.” he says.
Parks' body of work on display will include topics from fashion photographs to depictions of American life. It will include some 150 photographs, as well as rare magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, and books that "offer an expansive and intimate look at how this pioneering African-American artist became one of the most influential photographers of his day," the release says.
The exhibition will be organized chronologically into five sections: A Choice of Weapons (1940-1942); Government Work (1942); The Home Front (1942–1943); Standard Oil (1944–1948); and Mass Media (1945–1950). That final section will focus on Parks’s photography for major fashion and lifestyle magazines, including Ebony, Circuit's Smart Woman, and Glamour, in addition to his freelance work and early photo essays for Life.
"We are grateful to the National Gallery of Art and The Gordon Parks Foundation for spearheading this groundbreaking consideration of the foundational aspects of his career and for allowing us to bring his timely and relevant perspective to our audiences in North Texas,” Walker says.