The Invisible Man (Harlem, New York)

A work made of gelatin silver print, from the series "a man becomes invisible" (1952).

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  • A work made of gelatin silver print, from the series "a man becomes invisible" (1952).

Date:

1952

Artist:

Gordon Parks
American, 1912–2006

About this artwork

In 1952 Gordon Parks—at the time the only African American staff photographer at Life magazine—brought an actor into the streets of Harlem to create a series on Ralph Ellison’s new novel Invisible Man, which had been immediately hailed as a breakthrough representation of black experience in America. The book’s narrator describes living “rent-free in a building rented strictly to whites, in a section of the basement that was shut off and forgotten during the nineteenth century.” To illustrate this scene, Parks set his camera on the pavement to take the picture, then burned (darkened) the top and bottom of the print, producing an expressive glow around the man’s face. The series, published in the August 25, 1952, issue of Life, illustrated a fiction but also informed millions across America and abroad about everyday life in Harlem. This rare early print was circulated in a show mounted by the American Federation of the Arts in 1962–65.

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Photography

Artist

Gordon Parks

Title

The Invisible Man (Harlem, New York)

Origin

United States

Date

1952

Medium

Gelatin silver print, from the series "A Man Becomes Invisible" (1952)

Dimensions

33 x 41.9 cm (image/paper/frame)

Credit Line

Anonymous Gift

Reference Number

2014.1101

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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