Gordon Parks, ‘Mother and Children, Mobile, Alabama’, 1956, Rush Philanthropic Benefit Auction 2015

Photographer Gordon Parks documented 20th-century American life during many of its most emblematic cultural transformations. An activist during the Civil Rights Movement, Parks captured mundane yet beautiful scenes, spotlighting a universal humanity that transcends issues of race and inequality. Parks’s work awakens a sense of civic solidarity in its viewers. His photographs have been shown worldwide through the Gordon Parks Foundation and exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., among many others.


Image rights: Courtesy of Gordon Parks Foundation

About Gordon Parks

Considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Gordon Parks was a self-taught photographer, filmmaker, writer, and composer. He is best known for chronicling the African American experience in powerful, poetic photographs. Parks worked for the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information before becoming the first black staff photographer at Life magazine. He was the first black auteur to release a major Hollywood film, The Learning Tree (1969), and he later made Shaft (1971) and Shaft’s Big Score! (1972), films that defined the blaxploitation genre. Parks also cofounded Essence magazine. In his photographs, Parks captured both the rich and famous and marginalized communities, especially his own. “I saw that the camera could be a weapon against . . . all sorts of social wrongs,” he said. “I knew at that point I had to have a camera.”

American, 1912-2006, Fort Scott, Kansas, based in New York, New York