Larry Clark

Larry Clark was born in Tulsa. Oklahoma in January 19th 1943. He learned photography early- his mother was a baby photographer. At the age of 13 he joined the family business. He started shooting amphetamines at age 16. He always had a camera with him which made it possible for him to get intimate pictures of him and his friends using drugs between 1963 and 1971. This led to his documentary photo book Tulsa which follows the lives of three young men through drug use, paranoia, and trauma in the Vietnam era. Tulsa was followed by Teenage Lust in 1983, his second documentary photo book that follows the next generation of Tulsa males as well as hustlers in New York City Times Square. The Perfect Childhood (1992) was published after Teenage Lust. He looked at tabloid teen criminals and teenage models. Next was the photo series “Skaters” (1992-1995) where he captured the community of skaters in New York’s Washington Square Park. “Kids” was his first documentary film (1995) following his photo series Skaters. It depicted themes of the destructiveness of dysfunctional family relationships, masculinity and the roots of violence, the links between mass imagery and social behaviors, and the construction of identity in adolescence.

Imagery Clark often uses includes sexually explicit scenes, scenes of drug use and violence. Also, socially relevant topics such as teen violence, pornography, masculinity, censorship, and the influence of the media-controversial, unforgettable. He himself has described how he drank, injected amphetamines, lived off prostitutes, and was arrested for numerous offenses (including various assaults, a knifing, and a shooting). Clark’s photographic process was highly documentary, using a 35mm camera with wide angle lens and working with existing light sources rather than strobes or artificial lighting.

What makes Clark significant in the medium is his fearless subject matter and raunchy black and white images. They are grainy and beautiful, and depict themes that make them unforgettable. Once you see a Larry Clark image it’s burned into your mind. It shows the real life practices of teenagers that some choose to ignore. Also he explores the minds of kids and the things they deal with while growing up-such as maturing, becoming sexual, dealing with self issues and media pressure, drugs, dysfunctional families and violence. In his early years as well as later his style remains the same-highly documentary, he uses 35 mm camera often with a wide angle lens. Black and white was his early style, and makes his images even more gritty and memorable. Larry Clark achieved notoriety through the release of his documentary photo books, the most famous being Tulsa. In these books his images speak to the youth of America. Clark is also a very real and unforgettable man. Many of his images are self portraits, and he often first did the activities his images depict. He lived the life his images and films portray. Clarks legacy is the amazing documentary books and photo essays as well as his films he is now directing. Tulsa and Kids are his two more notable works. Clarks images are special because of their incredibly controversial themes and their gritty nature. Clark covers issues such as maturing, becoming sexually active, losing one’s’ virginity, using drugs, prostitution, violence, finding a sense of self, pressure from the media and T.V., dysfunctional families and life itself for a teenager growing up in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. He creates beautiful yet disturbing images you will never forget.

“Larry Clark.” artnet. Accessed March 31, 2011. Last modified  2011.

Sacasa, Natalia. “Larry Clark.” Luhring Augustine. Accessed March 31, 2011. Last modified  2010.

Sanders, Joe. “Larry Clark.” Larry Clark Photography. Accessed March 31, 2011. Last modified  2006.

Wallis, Brian. “Larry Clark.” International Center of Photography. Accessed March 31, 2011. Last modified  Summer 2005.

Wikipedia contributors, “Larry Clark,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed April 1, 2011).

Wikipedia contributors, “Tulsa (book),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed April 1, 2011).


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