Cross-posted from The New York Times. [By Guy Trebay]
Gordon Parks was “the first Black member of the Farm Security Administration’s storied photo corps; the first Black photographer for the United States Office of War Information; the first Black photographer for Vogue; the first Black staff photographer at the weekly magazine Life; and, years later, the first Black filmmaker to direct a motion picture for a major Hollywood studio. By the standards of a Jim Crow era, Parks’s perseverance rose to the level of the biblical.”
“As with his many other talents, the groundbreaking photographer and filmmaker possessed more cool than he could ever use.
Because this year marks the 50th anniversary of his groundbreaking 1971 film, “Shaft”; because two fine shows of his pioneering photojournalism are currently on view at the Jack Shainman galleries in Chelsea; because a suite from his influential 1957 series, “The Atmosphere of Crime,” is a highlight of “In and Around Harlem,” now on view at the Museum of Modern Art; and because, somehow, despite the long shadow cast by a man widely considered the pre-eminent Black American photographer of the 20th century, he is too little known, the time seems right to revisit some elements of the remarkable life, style and undimmed relevance of Gordon Parks.”