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MoMA Acquires Fifty-Six Works by Photographer Gordon Parks

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York has purchased fifty-six works by American photographer Gordon Parks. The photographs are part of the groundbreaking series “The Atmosphere of Crime,” 1957, which the artist produced for a photo-essay for Life magazine—Parks became the first African American staff photographer at the publication in 1948.

Shot using available light, the photos—images of crime scenes, police precincts, hospitals, and morgues—address issues of race relations, poverty, urban life, and the criminal justice system. A selection of the works will go on view in the exhibition “Gordon Parks and the Atmosphere of Crime” in May.

“Parks knew that his camera could be a powerful weapon, more potent than violence, and that pictures and words could further social change. ‘The Atmosphere of Crime’ series remains as timeless and relevant today as when the photographs were made more than fifty years ago,” said Peter W. Kunhardt Jr., executive director of the Gordon Parks Foundation.