Daily Picture Show

Gordon Parks Collection Has A New Home

In the 1940s, a photographer named Gordon Parks broke into a scene that had previously been dominated by white men. He was the first black photographer to work for magazines like Life and Vogue, and the first to work for the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information. Born into poverty and the youngest of 15, he had a sensibility about poor living conditions. But as a renowned photographer, he also had access to some of the most famed athletes and celebrities, like Muhammad Ali and Ingrid Bergman.

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    Commonly known as American Gothic, this photo of charwoman Ella Watson was taken in Washington, D.C., in 1942.
    Courtesy Library of Congress
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    American Gothic — a portrait of Ella Watson — is one of the most recognizable Parks photos. But this photo, also of Ella Watson and her grandchildren and adopted daughter, gives a more personal perspective.
    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    Muhammad Ali, 1970
    Courtesy of Purchase College/Gordon Parks Foundation
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    Actress Ingrid Bergman in Italy for the filming of Stromboli, 1949
    Courtesy of Purchase College/Gordon Parks Foundation
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    Writer Langston Hughes in Chicago, 1941
    Courtesy of Purchase College/Gordon Parks Foundation
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    This image of a Harlem newsboy was taken in New York City in 1943, while Parks worked for the Farm Security Administration.
    Courtesy Library of Congress

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This summer, it was announced that more that 4,000 prints and 20,000 negatives of Parks' work will be moved to Purchase College/State University of New York to be preserved, cataloged and made available for public view and study. The groundbreaking photographer died in 2006, and the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation acquired his work the following year. The foundation will also be sending photos by Timothy O'Sullivan, Mathew Brady and Ed Clark along with Parks' collection to be housed by Purchase.

You can see some of Parks' photos in this gallery, some from Purchase College and others from the Library of Congress, which also has a large collection of his early work. To learn more about Parks, check out this retrospective feature put together by PDN and Kodak.

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