Larry Clark

Larry Clark

2005 Honoree: Outstanding Achievement in Documentary Photography


Heri Cartier-BressonIt’s not every photographer who can intimately capture the haunting and gritty faces of America’s suburban youth. For over 40 years, photographer and filmmaker, Larry Clark, has been producing unforgettable images that confront themes of drugs, violence, and sex in youth culture. Clark’s faithful eye for authenticity has made him a legend in the world of documentation.

Clark has used his dysfunctional Midwestern upbringing as a source of inspiration. Bursting into the art scene in 1971 with his book Tulsa, he graphically depicts teenage drug abuse with his grainy black and white photographs. Thereafter, he has consistently portrayed the disturbingly candid culture of American adolescents and their attempts at self-destruction. Teenage Lust (1983) and Perfect Childhood (1993) are two other photographic collections that explore the desolate and cold alienation of youths.

With his debut film, KIDS (1995), Clark earned international recognition with his controversial and chilling depiction of urban teens in New York City obsessed with gratuitous sex, skateboarding, and speed. This story is chronicled as if it were a documentary, enhancing Clark’s reputation as a pioneer in recording desperate and bleak youth culture. Equally provocative are his films Another Day in Paradise (1998), Bully (2001), and Wassup Rockers (2005).

Clark’s stark and iconic images are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Clark uses photography to explore contentious taboos among American adolescents. He documents the dark coping mechanisms of lonely and unsupervised youth: snorting cocaine, rape, guns, tourniquets, prostitution–all common images in his work. Larry Clark’s uncensored and poignant images have merited a cult following and international discussions of his work.