Larry Fink

United States 1941


Larry Fink
Larry Fink
United States
January 26, 2015
Music, Gestalt, .

Best known for his photographs of rich and glamorous people and their parties, Larry Fink is an American artist and one of the most respected photographers in the contemporary world. Famous for what seems as a uniform topic with not much to go around, he was also concerned with the other side of the coin, taking pictures of ordinary people living ordinary lives. Wealthy or poor, famous or unknown, they were all but people to him, seen within the primary moment, without previous assumptions of any kind. Realizing that each moment is the only moment we really have, Fink approached his work without prejudice and entered every moment with the thought that it may be the last one. His photographs are an attempt to give the perception of the moment some relationship to immortality.

Larry Fink music and books on view in New York gallery / museum site in 2016
Larry Fink – Leroy Jenkins, Revolutionary Ensemble, 1972 – image courtesy of Spazio Damiani

Personal Life

Born in Brooklyn, Fink was a disaffected teenager in the 1950s America on the cusp of radical social change, completely disinterested in the consumer-driven culture. As such, his parents transferred him to art school, where his career as a photographer began to flourish. They were very supportive of his interest in arts. He later dropped out of college and joined a circle of artists living in Greenwich Village, spending the 1960s watching and learning from the prominent photographers of the time: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, W. Eugene Smith. In many ways, his photographic aesthetic and rebellious spirit encapsulate the dramatic loss of innocence that the US underwent after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. Also, his work draws heavily on the European tradition of photography of Brassaï and Kertesz and of the painters Georg Grosz and Otto Dix. Like these artists, Fink sought inspiration in what he considered a grotesque and sensuous theater of life.[1]

Fink’s mother, Sylvia, was a leftist, so he was raised within a certain political viewpoint. Despite her ideological orientation, she was an elegant lady, who enjoyed wearing furs, loved beautiful things and going to see jazz with his father. As he says: “she was a Mink Marxist and I guess I was too. So I was raised to have ideological disdain towards the upper classes. And yet, at the same time, I was interested in luxury, in pleasure.”[2] It was a strong contradiction, one of many that have marked both his life and his career. She supported her son’s art endeavors and felt that art should be in service of social change. With politically influenced thoughts, Fink ended up studying with the photographer Lisette Model, who is known for her uncompromising portraits of French bourgeoisie and for her gritty photographs of the streets and jazz music clubs of New York City.

Larry Fink new books and music were shown in gallery - museum in recent years
Larry Fink – Turk Leclair, MacDougal Street, New York, 1958 (Left) / Turk and Robert, Monterrey, Mexico, 1958 (Right) – image courtesy of Galerie Julian Sander

Approach and Most Notable Series

He photographed all kinds of people, except the sociopaths. Always looking for the emphatic factor, he considers that phenomenon extremely interesting. With even the most powerful of us being dominated by small things, such as insecurity or greed, Finks finds that “we’re all human… We’re all infinitely vulnerable”.[3] Often, the smallest of things make us the most human, and the most vulnerable. In some way or another, his work is a reflection of his life. Social Graces, his first series, was not meant as a Marxist statement, even though “I am a Marxist or, at least, I was a Marxist before the world became an impossible place to predict.”[4] As a leftist that was interested in luxury, Fink found himself enveloped by a set of contradictions that embellished his politics and aesthetics. His work was not meant to be polemical, nor political. As it turned out, it became honest. Without the slightest notions of cruelty, the photographer embraced the souls of all people, regardless of their conditions. Boxing is a series, whose quality was caused by the feeling Fink had whenever he stepped into a ring – an oddly powerful feeling of total calm and peace, and a sense that he should be there. Interested in the relationship between the two fighters, he discovered a harmony contained out of unbelievable purity of intention and innocence, and unbelievable greed, evil, and belligerence. Understood as an extension of his interest in documenting the rich and their habits, Runway is a series that continued his streak of contradictions. As he admits, he was critical (not hypercritical), but critical with the system, while at the same time, he was becoming a part of that very system. Before he even noticed, a very productive decade in the world of fashion was behind him. In 2007, Fink made a conceptual move with Instantaneous, finally bringing together two eternally opposite sides – the viewers and the photographs. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the exhibition that was held there represented the perfect opportunity to play with the notion of time. Photographs of the event were taken, then projected on the wall for the guests while they were still there. It was real life, in real time! Te guests watched each other. They say themselves. And suddenly, they were no longer merely visitors at an event – they became it.

In Instantaneous, the photographer turned the visitors at an event into an event itself

Larry Fink fans like his new terms of work, they make him a titan
Larry Fink – Untitled image from the Instantaneous, 2007 – image courtesy of the artist

The Acclaim

As stated above, Fink rose to prominence with his photographs of the rich people’s parties, but he also worked on the opposite side of the spectrum. What seemed as a uniform thematic dominated the public opinion about him for quite some time, but now, the history has finally given his images a completely new level of meaning. Acknowledged the layers that were actually always there. In the recent years, and always working on his own terms, Larry Fink has taken his rightful place as a titan in the world of photography.

Larry Fink lives and works in Pennsylvania.


  1. Dahlberg L. Larry Fink, Phaidon Press, New York and London, 2005
  2. Seymour T. Larry Fink’s best photograph: a drumbeat transcends a jazz gig, The Guardian [September 30,2016]
  3. Laurent O. Larry Fink: ‘Photography Is the Critical Instrument of the Curious’, Time [September 30,2016]
  4. Teresa A. A Moment with Larry Fink, The New York Times [September 30,2016]

Featured image: Larry Fink – portrait – image courtesy of the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017Street Smart: Photographs of New York 1945-1980Bruce Museum, Greenwich, ConnecticutGroup
2016BoxingBelfast Photo Festival, Belfast, Northern IrelandSolo
2016Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843-PresentBrooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New YorkGroup
2016OvergrowthdeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MassachusettsGroup
2016The Photobook Exhibition (Opening the Sky)Athens Photo Festival, Athens, GreeceGroup
2016Larry Fink: An American LifeMuseo de Arte Contemporaneo, Panama City, PanamaSolo
2015The Photobook Exhibition (The Beats)Athens Photo Festival, Athens, GreeceGroup
2015Body and SoulMuseo de Huelva, Huelva, SpainSolo
2015The VanitiesSavignano Immagini Festival, Savignano sul Rubicone, ItalySolo
2015The BeatsSavignano Immagini Festival, Savignano sul Rubicone, ItalySolo
2015In FocusJ.Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, California
2015Terminal: On Mortality and BeautyPhoto Center Northwest, Seattle, WashingtonGroup
2015The BeatsLOOK3 Festival of the Photograph, Charlottesville,VirginiaSolo
2015Click! Triangle Photography FestivalChapel Hill, North CarolinaGroup
2015Revisiting South BethlehemDubois Gallery, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PennsylvaniaGroup
2015Harlem: Life in PicturesIlon Gallery, Harlem, New YorkGroup
2015The BeatsFeroz Gallery, Bonn, GermanySolo
2015The BeatsBox Galerie, Brussels, BelgiumSolo
2014The BeatsParis Photo (with Feroz Gallery), Paris, FranceSolo
2014The BeatsFotografia Festival, Rome, ItalySolo
2014The BeatsNoorderlicht Photofestival, Groningen, The NetherlandsSolo
2014Body and SoulCicus, Seville, SpainSolo
2014Portraits of the SoulFowler Gallery, Bethlehem, PennsylvaniaSolo
2014Unbound 3!Candela Books + Gallery, Richmond, VirginiaGroup
2014Artificial Light: Flash Photography in the Twentieth CenturyPhiladelphia Musem of Art, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaGroup
2014On Stage: Recent AcquisitionsVancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, CanadaGroup
2014Philadelphia Photographers: 1975 to 1985Santa Bannon Fine Art, Bethlehem, PennsylvaniaGroup
2014From Art to Zoo: Exploring Animal NaturesSanta Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CaliforniaGroup
2013Work in Progress: The FamilySanta Bannon/Fine Art, Bethlehem, PennsylvaniaSolo
2013The VanitiesMunicipal Exhibition Hall of San Benito, Valladolid, SpainSolo
2013Body and SoulPablo Gargallo Museum, Zaragoza, SpainSolo
2013Act/NaturalJepson Center, Telfair Museums, Savannah, GeorgiaGroup
2013Body and SoulMuseum of Contemporary Art Gas Natural Fenosa, A Coruna, SpainSolo
2012Three Story HouseMuseum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CaliforniaGroup
2012Somewhere There's Music Third Floor Gallery. Cardiff, Wales. Solo
2012Retrospective Show Andalusian Center of Photography. Almeria, Spain. Solo
2012The Vanities Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Solo
2012Every Four Years: Presidential Campaign Photos and PostersGrand Circle Gallery, Boston, MassachusettsGroup
2011The Vanitites Schmidt,Dean Gallery. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Solo
2011Larry Fink: Hollywood, 2000-2009 Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, California.Solo
2011Larry Fink: Attraction and Desire - 50 years in Photography The Sheldon Art Galleries. Saint Louis, Missouri. Solo
2011Beautiful PeopleBox Galerie. Bruxelles, Belgium. Solo
2011The Beatniks Scotiabank Contact Festival. Toronto, Canada. Solo
2011Runway, The Vanities Mercantile Home. Easton, Pennsylvania. Solo
2011The Vanities 2000-2009 Fahey Klein Gallery. Los Angeles, California Solo
2011The Sight of Sounds: Larry Fink Curates William Gottlieb and Larry Fink Images of America's cultural jazz heritage, 1938-2006 Zoellner Arts Center Art Group
2011UntitledMarlin and Regina Miller Gallery at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Kutztown, Pennsylvania. Group
2011Philippe Vermes, Portraits of Photographers and their Photographs Galerie Esther Woerdehoff. Paris, France.Group
2009The Sense of Sound Williams Center for the Arts, Lafayette College. Easton, Pennsylvania. Solo
2009Every Moment Counts Organized as part of Athens Photo Festival 09 and in cooperation with the Hellenic Center for Photography. Solo
2009Is Only the Mind Allowed to Wander Vancouver Art Gallery. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Group
2008Road to Freedom High Museum of Art. Atlanta, Georgia.Group
2008UntitledInternational Gallery, S. Dillon Ripley Center, Smithsonian Institution. Washington, D.C.Group
2008Chuang, Joshua, curator. "First Doubt: Optical Confusion in Modern Photography Yale University Art Gallery. New Haven, Connecticut. Group
2008Diminishing Returns, Bernstein Gallery, Princeton University. Princeton, New Jersey. Solo
2008The Democrats Pace MacGill Gallery. New York, New York. Solo
2008There to Here, Then and Now: Favorites from 25 years at the Williams Center Gallery Williams Center Gallery, Lafayette Gallery. Easton, Pennsylvania. Group
2008Presumed Innocence: Photographic Perspectives of ChildrenDeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park. Lincoln, Massachusetts. Group
2007That 70s Show: New York City in the 1970s powerHouse Arena. Brooklyn, New York.Group
2007Lisette Model and Her Successors Aperture Gallery, New York, New York. Group
2007UntitledPresentation House Gallery. North Vancouver, BC, Canada.Group
2007UntitledMuseo di Roma in Trastevere. Rome, Italy.Group
2007UntitledGalleria Carla Sozzani. Milan, Italy.Group
2007The Forbidden Pictures, A Political Tableau Galerie Lichtblick. Cologne, Germany. Solo
2007Logging, The Olympic PeninsulaLorenzelli Arte Gallery. Milan, Italy. Solo
2007Social Commentary: The Art of George Grosz and Larry Fink The Heckscher Museum of Art. Huntington, New York. Solo
2007Somewhere There’s Music Galleria Forni. Milan, Italy. April. Solo
2007Somewhere There’s Music Museo Alinari. Florence, Italy.Solo
2007The Show on Vegas M+B. Los Angeles, California.Group
2007UntitledMount Holyoke College Art Museum. South Hadley, Massachusetts.Group
2006Larry Fink: Somewhere There’s Music Martin Art Gallery, Muhlenberg College. Allentown, Pennsylvania. Solo
2006Dehò, Valerio, curator. "Somewhere There’s Music Museum of Modern Art, Ville della Rose. Bologna, Italy. Solo
2006Relationships: a Ten Year Bond - Works selected from CPW's Permanent Print Collection The Center for Photography at Woodstock. Woodstock, New York.Group
2006Recent Acquisitions: Prints, Drawings, and Photographs The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, Michigan. Group
2006Disco Years: A powerHouse Retrospective powerhouse Arena. Brooklyn, New York. Group
2006New York at Night: Photographs from the Collection Museum of Modern Art. New York, New York.Group
2006UntitledUniversity of Kentucky Art Museum. Lexington, Kentucky. Solo
2005Photography as Fine Art Susquehanna Art Museum. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.Group
2005Larry Fink: Photographien Camerawork. Berlin, Germany. . Solo
2005Diminishing Returns Skillman Library, Lafayette College. Easton, Pennsylvania. Solo
2005Larry Fink: Under the Surface Stephen Cohen Gallery. Los Angeles, California. Solo
2005Made in the Shade Pace Macgill Gallery. New York, New York. Group
2005UntitledPennsylvania College of Art and Design. Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Group
2004Larry Fink: The Forbidden Pictures, A Political Tableau powerHouse Gallery. New York, New York. Solo
2004Larry Fink: The Forbidden Work--A Political Tableau Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Solo
2004Larry Fink: Social Graces Edwynn Houk Gallery. New York, New York. Solo
2004Untitledproject BLUE GALLERY. Easton, Pennsylvania. Group
2003UntitledMuseìe de L'Elyseìe. Lausanne, Switzerland.Group
2003UntitledThe Open Lens Gallery. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Group
2003UntitledMizel Museum and Center for Arts and Culture. Denver, Colorado. Group
2003Gifts from the CMA Friends of Photography Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, Ohio. Group
2003A City Seen: Photographs from The George Gund Foundation CollectionCleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, Ohio. Group
2003UntitledMarvin Cone Gallery, Coe College. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Solo
2003UntitledMadison Art Center. Madison, Wisconsin. Group
2003New York: Capital of Photography The Jewish Museum. New York, New York.Group
2003UntitledWoodmere Art Museum. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Group
2002UntitledJersey City Museum Jersey City, New Jersey. Solo
2002UntitledThe Bonfoey Company. Cleveland, Ohio. Group
2002CONSTELLATION - Celebrating 25 YearsCenter for Photography. Woodstock, New York. Group
2002Time Circles: Past and Present SK Josefsberg Studio. Portland, Oregon. Solo
2001Runway Freedman Gallery, Albright College Center for the Arts. Reading, Pennsylvania. Solo
2001Social Graces Jan Kesner Gallery. Los Angeles, California. Solo
2001UntitledMichael Hoppen Gallery. London, United Kingdom. Group
2001UntitledCleveland Museum of Art Cleveland, Ohio. Group
2001Larry Fink, Photographs 1957-2001 Vu Gallery. Paris, France. Solo
2001Social Graces Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, New York. Solo
2000Runway Hunterdon Museum of Art. Clinton, New Jersey. Solo
2000UntitledMuseum of Modern Art. New York, New York. Group
2000UntitledJan Kesner Gallery. Los Angeles, California. Solo
2000Theater Without a Plot, Runway Revolution Gallery. New York, New York. Solo
2000Party Pictures! Lawrence Rubin Greenberg Van Doren Fine Art. New York, New York. Group
2000UntitledRevolution Gallery. Ferndale, Michigan. Solo
1999UntitledSchmidt Dean Gallery. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Solo
1999UntitledTraveling show. Tokoyo, Osaka and Nagoya, Japan. Group
1999UntitledMuseum of Modern Art. New York, New York. Group
1998Noble Evenings & Other Social Graces, Twenty-five Year Retrospective Jan Kesner Gallery. Los Angeles, California. Solo
1998UntitledLarry Miller Gallery. New York, New York. Group
1998UntitledMuseum of Modern Art. New York, New York. Group
1998UntitledLouvre Museum. Paris, France. Group
1998Portuguese Center for Photography. Porto, Portugal. Solo
1997RetrospectiveMusee de la Photographie. Charleroi, Belgium. Solo
1997Gateway Center IV. Newark, New Jersey. Solo
1997Larry Fink: Power Yancey Richardson Gallery. New York, New York. . Solo
1997Panichas, George E, curator. Fish and wine: Larry Fink's photographs of Portugal,Lafayette College. Easton, Pennsylvania. Solo
1997Larry Fink, boxing photographs Whitney Museum of American Art. New York, New York. Solo
1995Retrospective Photo Forum. Frankfurt, Germany. Solo
1994Retrospective Musee de l’Elysee. Lausanne, Switzerland. Solo
1994UntitledNational Institute of Photography. Netherlands. Group
1993UntitledNewberger Museum. Purchase, New York. Solo
1993UntitledGallery Forum. Tarragona, Spain. Solo
1993Retrospective Les Rencontres de Photographie. Arles, France. Solo
1993UntitledSilver Eye Gallery. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Solo
1993UntitledAllentown Museum of Art. Allentown, Pennsylvania. Group
1992UntitledCatherine Edelman Gallery. Chicago, Illinois. Solo
1992UntitledMuseum of Modern Art. New York, New York. Group
1991UntitledMuseum of Modern Art. New York, New York. Group
1991UntitledAllentown Museum of Art. Allentown, Pennsylvania. Group
1989UntitledDrexel University. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Group
1989UntitledGallery Foto. Oslo, Norway. Solo
1987RetrospectiveAmerican Cultural Embassy. Bruxelles, Belgium. Solo
1987RetrospectiveHaverford College. Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Solo
1987UntitledLight Gallery. New York, New York. Group
1986UntitledSanta Barbara Contemporary ArtsForum. Santa Barbara, California. Solo
1985UntitledGallery Forum. Tarragona, Spain. Solo
1985Friends of Photography Carmel, California. Group
1985UntitledAllentown Museum. Allentown, Pennsylvania. Group
1985UntitledDubois Gallery, Lehigh University. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Group
1985UntitledFotosymposium. Milan, Italy. Group
1985Semana Internacional de la Fotografia Guadalajara, Mexico. Group
1985UntitledBurden Gallery. New York, New York. Solo
1984UntitledSander Gallery. New York, New York.Solo
1983UntitledMarcuse Pfeifer Gallery. New York, New York. Solo
1983UntitledAllentown Museum. Allentown, Pennsylvania. Group
1983UntitledWerkstatt fur Photographie der VHS Kruezberg. Berlin, Germany. Solo
1981UntitledKunst Museum. Dusseldorf, Germany. Solo
1981Larry Fink and Joel Sternfeld: Photographs San Francisco Museum of Art. San Francisco, California.Solo
1981UntitledMuseum of Modern Art. New York, New York. Group
1980UntitledLight Gallery. New York, New York. Solo
1980UntitledWork Gallery. Zurich, Switzerland. Solo
1979Larry Fink Museum of Modern Art. New York, New York. Solo
1979American Images Bell System traveling exhibition. Group
1979UntitledGalerie Breiting. Berlin, Germany. Solo
1979UntitledSimon Lowinsky Gallery. San Francisco, California. Solo
1979UntitledGalerie Eric Fabre. Paris, France. Solo
1979UntitledSanders Gallery. Washington, D.C. Solo
1979UntitledAllentown Museum. Allentown, Pennsylvania. Group
1978UntitledLight Gallery. New York, New York. Group
1978UntitledLehigh University. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Solo
1978UntitledSanders Gallery. Washington, D.C. Solo
1978UntitledUCLA. Los Angeles, California. Group
1978UntitledPrakapas Gallery. New York, New York. Group
1978UntitledUniversity of Maryland. Baltimore, Maryland. Group
1978UntitledMuseum of Modern Art. New York, New York. Group
1977UntitledCenter for Creative Photography. Tucson, Arizona. Solo
1976UntitledRutgers University. New Brunswick, New Jersey. Solo
1976UntitledCarl Solway Gallery. Cincinnati, Ohio. Solo
1975UntitledMidtown Y Gallery. New York, New York. Group
1975UntitledVisual Studies Workshop. Rochester, New York. Group
1975UntitledMidtown Gallery. New York, New York. Solo
1973UntitledYale University School of Fine Arts.New Haven, ConnecticutSolo
1973UntitledMidtown Y Gallery. New York, New York. Group
1972UntitledPrinceton University. Princeton, New Jersey. Group
1970UntitledMIT Gallery of Creative Photography. Boston, Massachusetts. Group
1970UntitledMuseum of Modern Art. New York, New York. Group