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Larry Fink – Retrospective

Larry Fink (*1941) has dedicated himself to photography for 65 years. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum in New York, among others. Bene Taschen Gallery is pleased to present a retrospective of works from Fink's celebrated photographic series The Vanities, Social Graces, The Beats, Somewhere there's Music, and Boxing Images. Fink first gained his photographic experience in New York and later moved from Brooklyn to Pennsylvania. In New York City, he attended The New School for Social Research, which spurred his interest in sociological perspectives.

For Fink, the focus is on people. In his photography books, he visualizes social groups, which he arranges into thematic focal points. As an invited guest or official photographer, Larry Fink shows Hollywood celebrities at parties in The Vanities.

He positions himself as a silent observer outside the action. In sometimes intimate moments, Fink documents the guests' social interactions: a glance over their shoulder, a smile, or an uncertain gesture. Surrounded by diffuse light, the people come to the fore through accentuated lighting. Not status, but details such as clothing and attitude are emphasized. People are not stylized from a distance and into icons, but portrayed in banal situations. Away from Hollywood parties, Fink photographs the social elite at openings, galas, and private receptions.

In Social Graces, these works are juxtaposed with photographs of the Sabatine family from Pennsylvania. During a visit to provincial Martins Creek, he documents family gatherings. Attributes such as an eighth birthday cake or a plate of spaghetti reveal the occasion of the gathering and create a glimpse into an average family - starkly contrasting with the elite events. Fink thus forms a social image that connects different social groups without prejudice.

As a 17-year-old, Fink decides to live in a commune of literati, painters, and musicians. In his photographs The Beats, their desire for a more liberal society lives on. Fink describes himself as a Marxist, a "red-diaper baby." The photographer considers the creatives to be the second generation of Beats, a literary trend in the early 1950s in the United States. At that time he lived next door to his favorite jazz club. Since early childhood, Fink grows up with jazz. He compares the music to the blood rhythm of his soul. He himself first played the piano and later the harmonica. The pictures from the series Somewhere there's Music read like a travel diary and bear witness to the encounters between photographer and musician. Jazz legends such as John Coltrane or Fink's great idol Jimmy Rushing stand in front of his camera. Both photo series not only create an absorbing aesthetic, but beneath their surface project political, social, and economic conditions of the time.

Fink also creates this behind-the-scenes look in his Boxing Images. His camera captures the discipline, nervousness, and ambition that define the boxers and their entourage inside and outside the boxing ring. Larry Fink's work combines photography, sociology and a unique aesthetic. Scenes, a strong contrast of light and dark, and iconic figures - Larry Fink's famous black and white photographs are reminiscent of the old masters of the Baroque; the composition of his works of Caravaggio's Chiaroscuro and Rembrandt's targeted lighting effects, translated into the modern medium of photography.


till May 8, 2021 (by appointment only)

Galerie Bene Taschen, Moltkestraße 81, 50674 Köln


Larry Fink, GQ Party, August 1997, copyright Larry Fink, courtesy Galerie Bene Taschen

About Bene Taschen Gallery:

Founded in 2011 in Cologne, Germany, Bene Taschen Gallery represents some of the world's leading artists in contemporary photography and painting. The gallery is committed to promoting its international artists through regular participation in major art fairs such as Paris Photo and Art Cologne, as well as an extensive exhibition program. In 2011, Bene Taschen Gallery debuted with LA photographer Gregory Bojorquez; in 2013, it began collaborating with Joseph Rodriguez of New York. In 2014, acclaimed Berlin-based photographer Miron Zownir joined the gallery program. In 2015, American photographers Jamel Shabazz and Arlene Gottfried from New York joined the gallery. Since fall 2017, the gallery has been pleased to represent New York-based photographer Jeff Mermelstein and German painter Charlotte Trossbach, and since fall/winter 2019, the gallery has collaborated with renowned photographers Sebastião Salgado and Larry Fink.

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