Gordon Parks is one of the 20th century's greatest multitalented cultural treasures: a writer, poet, musician, composer, filmmaker, and photographer. In this book--the companion volume to a traveling retrospective--the full flower of Parks's genius is both awe-inspiring in its depth and thorough in its demolition of the era's social-science fictions about African American potential.
Born in Kansas, Parks wandered as a homeless teen, and through wit, smarts, and improvisation--and no experience--landed a job as a photographer for the Farm Security Administration, then with his new skill took pictures for Life magazine. "Tyrants, dictators, dethroned kings," he writes, "all stared into my camera with eyes that were unveiled. The camera revealed them as they were--human beings imprisoned inside themselves." Highlights among his photographic work include the haunting shot of domestic Ella Watson, the starkness of a 1940s teenaged gang leader named Red Jackson lying eternally young in his coffin, and the elegant, life-and-death ballet of the Spanish bullfight. Parks's depiction of Duke Ellington's towering music in motion reflects the importance of jazz and blues in Parks's artistry. From the films Shaft and The Learning Tree (the latter adapted from his own novel) to his impressionistic ballet honoring Martin Luther King Jr., his work swings with an American rhythm that continues to inspire him. "A musical theme vibrates in my sleep," he writes. "I get up, go to the piano, and jot it down. A blustery sky, a crescent moon, or the blazing sun can hurry me to poetry, or to the camera. When the doors of promise open, the trick is to quickly walk through them." --Eugene Holley Jr.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
This lavishly illustrated book of photographs from prolific African American artist Parks accompanies a traveling exhibit organized by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Though Philip Brookman, the Corcoran's curator of photography, offers an assessment of Parks's artistic contributions, his autobiography?revised, updated, and shortened for this retrospective volume?tells it best. Born in 1912, Parks began photography with a $7.50 camera in 1938 and later talked his way into a job with Roy Stryker at the Farm Security Administration. He went on to photograph a range of subjects, from factory workers and Harlem riots to fashion (for Vogue), Paris (for Life), the Civil Rights movement, and Muhammad Ali; his later color work is at once dreamlike and stark. Unrivaled in the emotional impact of his photographs and the range of projects he undertook?his bibliography/filmography lists 15 books of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and photography, and he has also written and directed several films and composed film scores, ballets, and works for piano and orchestra?Parks shows no signs of slowing down. The images in this fine book, presented chronologically from 1949, go right up to 1997. Highly recommended for photography, black history, photojournalism, fashion photography, and general collections.?Kathleen Collins, Bank of America Archives, San Francisco
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.