Virtual Views

Gordon Parks

Explore the artist’s work online

moma.org

Gordon Parks. Untitled, Chicago, Illinois. 1957. Pigmented inkjet print, printed 2019, 13 3/4 × 21" (35 × 53.3 cm). The Family of Man Fund. © 2020 Gordon Parks Foundation

“I’m an objective reporter with a subjective heart,” proclaimed Gordon Parks. “I can’t help but have a certain kind of empathy…. It’s more or less expressing things for people who can’t speak for themselves...the underdogs...in that way I speak for myself.” For over half a century, from the 1940s to the 2000s, Gordon Parks captured American life with his powerful photographs. After getting his first camera at the age of 25, he used this “weapon of choice” to attack issues including racism, poverty, urban life, and injustice. He became the first African American staff photographer at Life magazine—an immensely influential platform in the golden age of photo-illustrated magazines that not only allowed his art to be seen by many but also brought a critical, nuanced and, importantly, a Black perspective to the stories and depictions that he shared. For a 1957 assignment, he crisscrossed the streets of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, producing vivid color images addressing the perceived rise in crime in the US. This series, “The Atmosphere of Crime,” challenged stereotypical images of delinquency, drug use, and corruption.

Take a close look at the powerful work of this photographer, filmmaker, memoirist, novelist, choreographer, composer, and poet as part of our Virtual Views series. Reexamine what criminality looks like through “The Atmosphere of Crime,” and join MoMA curator Sarah Meister and distinguished scholars Nicole Fleetwood and Khalil G. Muhammad for a live Q&A on Thursday, July 16, at 8:00 p.m. EDT, as they discuss Parks’s powerful work and talk about photography, activism, and more.

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].