Half and the Whole
Spread across both Jack Shainman’s gallery locations, “Gordon Parks: Half and the Whole” showcases a wide-ranging selection of work from the iconic late photographer. For more than 50 years, Parks documented Black Americans, from everyday people to celebrities, activists, and world-changers. His images illuminated African American life and culture at a time when few others were bothering to look.
The works on view in this exhibition span from 1942-1970, the height of Parks’s career. The earliest, American Gothic (1942)—Parks’s portrait of Ella Watson, a Black woman and worker whose inscrutable pose evokes the famous Grant Wood painting—is among his most recognizable. Decades later, Parks captured the civil rights movement as it swept the country. Many photos depict protest scenes and leaders like Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. Other works make clear what that movement was fighting for, by laying bare the indignities and cruelty of racial segregation: In Outside Looking In, Mobile, Alabama (1956), a group of Black children stand behind a chain-link fence, looking on at a whites-only playground.
Gordon Parks, Untitled, Mobile, Alabama, 1956. Photograph by Gordon Parks. Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation.