Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Jack Shainman Gallery’s two-part exhibition of photographs by Gordon Parks is now on view at both its gallery locations in New York through February 20. Titled “Half and the Whole,” the show is a tribute to the late artist’s impactful images of Black Americans, acknowledging their continued relevance in the present day.
Accompanied by an essay written by the Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer Jelani Cobb, the photographs on view include a mixture of color and black and white images taken between 1942—1970. At the 20th Street gallery, visitors will find iconic, rarely exhibited photographs depicting the Black experience, including compositions like Segregation Story and Invisible Man, capturing a person emerging from a manhole in the street. And within the 24th Street space, the gallery explores Parks’s coverage of Civil Rights protests and portraits of leaders, including figures like Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali.
By taking the position of witness and observer, the photographer conveyed poignantly a sense of humanity encompassing both the beauty and struggles faced in the lives of his subjects. Captivating images like American Gothic, Washington, D.C. and the finely dressed mother-daughter duo standing under a sign reading “Colored Entrance” (Department Store, Mobile, Alabama) may leave viewers with an ache in their chest, but Parks manages to capture little glimpses of everyday joy, too.
“The snatched-from-the-headlines quality of these images attest to the fact that our conflicts have not changed, but neither has the willingness to confront them,” Cobb writes in the exhibition essay. “There is nothing in Parks’s body of work that includes the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter,’ but it didn’t need to. He’d already shown that they do, minute after minute, across the void from his time to our own.”