Larry Fink, Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, April 1990, copyright Larry Fink, courtesy Galerie Bene Taschen
In Memory of Larry Fink: BOXING
through 17 February 2024 // Galerie Bene Taschen, Cologne
Galerie Bene Taschen is honored to present the upcoming exhibition Boxing by renowned American photographer Larry Fink (1941 – 2023) who passed away last week. The photographs draw attention to the transatlantic boxing industry during the late 80s and early 90s and celebrate iconic moments of boxing legends such as Mike Tyson and Jimmy Jacobs.
From year one, Fink has been exploring issues relating to social psychology and politics, capturing the relationships, frictions and developments between the working and upper class. Always taking the role of the silent observer, Fink stands on the sidelines and captures hidden glances, secret touches and unfeigned expressions. From Hollywood celebrities attending Oscar parties to the rough energy of the boxing world, Larry Fink’s famous black-and-white photographs evoke the old Baroque masters: in compositions reminiscent of Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro and Rembrandt’s precise use of light; figures, unknown and famous, move through light and shadow, euphoria and suffering.
With his characteristic way of working, the documentarian’s Boxing images capture the sheer survival drive of a boxer, fortified by their discipline, anticipation and ambition along with their entourage, both inside and outside the ring. At the same time these works expose the deep fraternity that creates a bond between many boxers and without which there would be only bloodshed and brutality. Faces filled with pride but also sweat, pain and the humiliation of losing; heroic fighters, whose confrontations are resolved through courage, ferocity and hard training.
Fink’s deep interest in boxing stemmed from a 1986 assignment to capture the sportsman Jimmy Jacobs, who was also serving as manager for the reigning world heavyweight champion. Images showcasing various locations such as theaters and hotel rooms in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey provide visual insight into the extensive journeys undertaken by Fink for this series. One of the most iconic moments in this series took place in Las Vegas, where Fink was tasked with capturing the historic showdown between Mike Tyson and Donovan Ruddock; a fight revered as the “Fight of the Year” in 1991.
Larry Fink has been a professional photographer for over sixty-five years, his work has been shown in solo exhibitions at many renowned institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In 1997, the catalogue BOXING: PHOTOGRAPHS BY LARRY FINK was published by powerHouse Books. Some of these images were also presented in the eponymous solo exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2018.