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Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940-1950

"We are with the new tide.
We stand at the crossroads.

We watch each new procession.
The hot wires carry urgent appeals.
Print compels us.
Voices are speaking. Men are moving!
And we shall be with them."

Richard Wright
12 Million Black Voices: A Folk History
of the Negro in the United States, 1941



Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940-1950 is now open at National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Within just a decade, Gordon Parks grew from a self-taught portrait photographer and photojournalist in Saint Paul and Chicago to a visionary professional working in New York and Paris for Ebony and Glamour, before becoming the first African American photographer at Life magazine in 1949. For the first time this lesser-known yet incredibly formative period of Parks’s long and illustrious career is the subject of a traveling exhibition that provides a detailed look at Parks’s early evolution through some 150 photographs, as well as rare magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, and books. It also demonstrates how Parks influenced and was inspired by a network of creative and intellectual figures—including Charles White, Roy Stryker, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison. A fully illustrated catalog, produced and published by the Gordon Parks Foundation and Steidl in association with the Gallery, features extensive new research and many previously unpublished images.

The exhibition is currently on view in the West Building of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, through February 18, 2019 before traveling The Cleveland Museum of Art (March 23-June 16, 2019); Amon Carter Museum of Art, Fort Worth, Texas (August 31-December 29, 2019); and Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts (February 1-April 26, 2020). Full National Gallery of Art press release here.