“These images and words are a gathering of individuals, events, places, conflicts and dilemmas that confronted me as
I shifted from course to course in pursuit of survival. Some star-coloured, others, painted with rage, fall like rain in my
memory. They all simmer down to what I remember, forgot, and what at last I know.” Gordon Parks
This five-volume collection surveys five decades of Gordon Parks’ photography. It is the most extensive publication to
document his legendary career. Widely recognized as the most important and influential African-American photo grapher
of the twentieth century, Parks combined a unique documentary and artistic style with a profound commitment to social
justice. Working first for the Farm Security Administration and later for Life magazine, he specialized in extendednarrative
picture stories on difficult subject matter. Covering crime, poverty, segregation, the politics of race and class,
and controversial personalities, Parks became legendary for his ability to meld penetrating insight with a lyrical aesthetic.
He was thus able to introduce a broad and diverse public to people, issues and ideas they might otherwise have ignored.
Parks was remarkably versatile, travelling the world to photograph news events and fashion, as well as the worlds of
art, literature, music, theatre and film. Later in life, he reconceived his vision in fundamentally personal and poetic terms,
producing colour photographs that were allusive rather than descriptive, symbolic rather than literal.
Gordon Parks was born into poverty and segregation in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1912. An itinerant labourer, he worked
as a brothel pianist and railcar porter, among other jobs, before buying a camera at a pawnshop, training himself, and
becoming a photographer. In addition to his storied tenures at the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War
Information (1941–1945) and Life magazine (1948–1972), Parks was a modern-day Renaissance man, who found
success as a film director, author and composer. The first African-American director to helm a major motion picture, he
popularised the Blaxploitation genre through his film Shaft (1971). He wrote numerous memoirs, novels and books of
poetry, and received many awards, including the National Medal of Arts, and more than fifty honorary degrees. In 1997
the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., mounted his retrospective exhibition “Half Past Autumn: The Art of
Gordon Parks”. Parks died in 2006.