The Photographers' Gallery, UK

Gordon Parks:
Black Americans

21 Sep – 13 Nov 1993

Past exhibition

A long overdue retrospective dedicated to the prolific practice of a major African American photographer



The Photographers' Gallery
No.8 Great Newport Street,
London WC2H 7JA, UK

past exhibition

We're sharing more exhibitions from Autograph's 35-year history. To view more exhibitions, click here.



Black Americans was a touring exhibition, a collaboration between Autograph and The Photographers' Gallery


Gordon Parks: Black Americans aimed to give long overdue exposure to the prolific photographic practice of the major African American photographer. It captured the strength and versatility of Gordon Parks’ photography, focusing on his documentation of black Americans from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Parks was one of the few black photographers to have gained success during this period and his achievement was as an important reference point at the time for black practitioners. Curator Mark Sealy, in the exhibition leaflet, wrote that: "recently many black photographers have turned away from documentary photography, arguing that this form has generally reinforced negative stereotypes of black people. Viewing Parks’ work now furthers this debate, raising questions around the sociopolitical nature of documentary photography and the practice of indigenous photographers internationally."

It was in this spirit that Gordon Parks: Black Americans set out to celebrate and explore Parks’ photography, reaffirming his position as one of the great photographers of the post-war period while foregrounding the issues that make his work acutely relevant.

about the artist

Gordon Parks (1912 - 2006)

Gordon Parks' photographic career began in earnest in the early 1940s with the legendary Farm Security Administration photography unit. In the struggle for social justice his camera became what he referred to as his weapon of choice against racism and social inequalities.

In 1956, as the only African American photographer on the staff of the hugely influential Life magazine, he documented the impact of racial segregation in the American South. In the 1960’s he explored the turbulence of the different political strategies of those involved in the struggle for social freedom: from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s participation in the March on Washington to the self-declared revolutionary approach of the Black Panthers. Parks' focus on the question of social change was unequivocal.

Read More



The exhibition later toured to The National Museum of Photography in Bradford and Ffotogallery in Cardiff

london exhibition

There would not be another solo exhibition of Parks' work in London until 2020, more than 25 years after Black Americans


2017 exhibition

Autograph later curated a solo exhibition Gordon Parks: A Choice of Weapons at Side Gallery in Newcastle


During the exhibition, Parks discussed the social use of his photography and the people he has photographed. The recording is in The Photographers' Gallery archive

in collaboration with

Gordon Parks: Black Americans was a touring exhibition, a collaboration between Autograph and The Photographers' Gallery

share your thoughts

Have a few moments to take a quick survey? Your feedback is invaluable

Take survey

Banner Image: Front cover from the exhibition leaflet for Gordon Parks: Black Americans, 1993.

About the artist: Gordon Parks at the Civil Rights March on Washington, 1963.