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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

FIVE PHOTOGRAPHS Gordon Parks


The release of the sound track to the motion picture “Shaft” starring Richard Roundtree was to be a major event. It featured the music of Maestro; Isaac Hayes for which he would win the much coveted Oscar and sold in the multiple millions. The album was released a few weeks earlier than the film and I had become engrossed in the music. The cover too, was itself an achievement of advertising art featuring the action hero/detective in a pulp fiction moment of triumphant motion with grim expression and guns blazing..  The bold, original concept “Shaft” logo most prominent! The liner notes spoke of many things including the film’s remarkable director; Gordon Parks. There was also a photo of Isaac Hayes with Parks and the creator of Shaft; Ernest Tidyman standing on the MGM studios film lot. All distinguished and excited about their collaboration. This was my introduction to Gordon Parks; an illustrious and variously talented man; one most gifted and accomplished. 


 From the starting point of film director I would discover that Mr. Parks had earlier directed the celebrated account of his own autobiographical novel “The Learning Tree.” He had even scored that film himself as well as having written the screen play. Parks had another major star point in his universe of expression. He was a photo-journalist of the highest order. He had been a staff member of the most lauded photography magazine in history.  The legendary magazine; “LIFE” was his home for a number of brilliant years. His contributions to the magazine included essays and photos on fashion, sports, Broadway and racial segregation. Parks remains a standard bearer for the ages; he is one among the greatest generation of photographers.


The films, writings, music and teachings of Gordon Parks have served as testaments to his journey to understanding, self-expression and the enrichment of the human experience. The catalogue of Gordon Parks’ efforts is eclectic, extensive and extraordinary. I have selected five pieces to illustrate his photography. They are his voice and speak to our pleasure.  













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