Larry Fink

About the Artist

“The camera is an instrument of detection. We photograph not only what we know, but also what we don’t know.” – Lisette Model

Larry Fink was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1941. He first picked up the  cameraIn photography, a tool for producing photographs, having a lightproof enclosure with an aperture and a shuttered lens through which the image of an object is focused and recorded on a photosensitive film or plate. In video, a device that receives the primary image on a light-sensitive cathode tube and transforms it into electrical impulses. (Artlex.com) Find out about 35-mm cameras at Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/135_film  at the age of thirteen, and found that taking pictures made it easier to meet people and to interact with them.  In his teens he studied photography privately with Lisette Model, a photographer and teacher known for her powerful images of people’s faces. He also studied with Alexey Brodovitch, a photographer, designer and instructor best known for his influential work as art director at Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

Fink is highly regarded as a photographer and a  photojournalistA journalist who uses images to tell stories. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photojournalism for more details  because of his ability to portray people as they are. In 1970 he began photographing what he called the “privileged classes” of New York City at private parties, gallery and museum openings, and nightclubs. Attending as a guest, and sometimes as the official photographer, he documented the interactions of the elite at these high-fashion events.

In 1980 he moved to rural Pennsylvania, where his photography focused on the simpler celebrations of his working-class neighbours at birthday parties and country fairs. Fink’s ability to capture and illuminate the private and unexpected moments behind the refined surface - the façade - that we present to the world has produced some thought-provoking social commentary. Some people have interpreted his photos as a satiric examination of the lives of his photographic subjects, particularly the rich and privileged, but Fink insists there is more to his work than that.

Fink’s black-and-white photography is known for the way in which he is able to capture the humanity of his subjects; what is remarkable about this is that he selects his subjects from all races, classes, and walks of life, and treats them with equal reverence. Using flash photography, Fink is able to capture what legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson called “the decisive moment;” that instant where the photograph comes into being, and during which the photographer must act, or lose the opportunity.

“I don’t object because  satireIrony, sarcasm, or derisive wit used to attack or expose vice, folly, or stupidity. Caricatures are commonly satirical whenever they are critical. (Artlex.com)  is a powerful force, so if the work is seen that way it serves one function,” he said in notes for an exhibition called Under the Surface. “But I don’t agree. The pictures are taken in the spirit of finding myself in the other, or finding the other in myself. They are taken in the spirit of empathy, [e]motional, physical, sensual empathy.” (Fink, 2005.)

Fink taught photography at Bard College (located about 145 kilometres north of New York) and also was a visiting professor of photography at Yale University. He has authored three books, including one entitled Boxing, published in 1997.


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning