Gordon Parks: Black Americans

21 Sep – 13 Nov 1993

Gordon Parks - Black Americans was organised in collaboration with Autograph, the Association of Black Photographers. Forming part of the Gallery archive is a recording of a question and answer session with Gordon Parks held at Great Newport Street during the exhibition, including a discussion about the social use of his photography and the people he has photographed.

“This exhibition aims to give long overdue exposure to the prolific photographic practice of a major African American photographer. It captures the strength and versatility of Gordon Parks’ photography, focusing on his documentation of black Americans from the 1940s to the 1970s. Parks is one of the few black photographers to have gained success during this period and his achievement stands as an important reference point for all black practioners. Recently many black photographers have turned away from documentary photography, arguing that this form has generally reinforced negative stereotypes of black people. Viewing Parks’ work now furthers this debate, raising questions around the sociopolitical nature of documentary photography and the practice of indigenous photographers internationally. It is in this spirit that the present exhibition sets out to celebrate and explore Gordon Parks’ photography, reaffirming his position as one of the great photographers of the post-war period, while foregrounding the issues that make his work still acutely relevant today.”

Mark Sealy, Director, Autograph. Text taken from the exhibition leaflet.