through 8 May 2021, at Galerie Bene Taschen, Cologne (by appointment only)
Larry Fink (*1941) has devoted 65 years of his life to photography. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum in New York, among others. Galerie Bene Taschen is pleased to present a retrospective with a selection of photo series, including The Vanities, Social Graces, The Beats, Somewhere There’s Music, and Boxing Images.
Fink gathered his first photographic experiences in New York and later relocated from Brooklyn to Pennsylvania. Attending The New School for Social Research in New York City sparked his interest in sociological perspectives. People are at the heart of Fink’s work. His photo books focus thematically on the different social groups he has depicted. The Vanities brings together images of Hollywood celebrities at parties, which Fink captured over the years as either an invited guest or official photographer. His role is that of a silent observer, standing on the sidelines. Documenting the partygoers’ interactions, he captures precious moments of intimacy: a glance over the shoulder, a smile, an insecure gesture. People enveloped in diffuse light are brought to the fore by the accentuated lighting. It is not their social status, but more subtle details that are conveyed, such as attire and attitude. Instead of being stylized from a distance and elevated to icons, they are depicted in banal situations.
In addition to Hollywood parties, Fink also photographed society’s elite at art openings, galas, and private receptions. In Social Graces, these works are juxtaposed with images he took of the Sabatines, a working-class family living in the rural town of Martins Creek, Pennsylvania. Details from ordinary life – from a cake celebrating a child’s 8th birthday to a plate of spaghetti – hint at the different family occasions. In bringing together these two vastly different worlds, Fink gives us a non-judgmental picture of society’s different facets.