I am You: Selected Works, 1934–1978
Injustice, violence, the rise of the American civil rights movement, high fashion and the arts—Gordon Parks captured half a century of the vast changes to the American cultural landscape in his multi-faceted career. I AM YOU: Selected Works, 1934–1978 reveals the breadth of his work as the first African American photographer for Vogue and Life magazines as well as a filmmaker, and as a writer.
Reportage for major magazines dominated Parks’ work from 1948 to 1972. He chronicled black America’s struggle for equality, exposing the harsh realities of life in Harlem, institutionalized racism, and shocking poverty. Parks was equally accomplished as a portraitist, capturing figures such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King alongside entertainers including Duke Ellington and Ingrid Bergman. He turned his attention to film in the 1960s with social documentaries as well as the now cult classic Shaft (1971).
This book traces the threads of Parks’ achievements, examining his multi-layered oeuvre through the interaction between his photographic and filmic visions.
Gordon Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1912. An itinerant laborer, 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 photographing for the Farm Security Administration (1941–45) and Life magazine (1948–72), Parks evolved into a modern-day Renaissance man, finding success as a film director, writer and composer. 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. Parks died in 2006