In 1971, America photographer Larry Clark published Tulsa with Lustrum Press, owned by Ralph Gibson, sparking a wave of controversy across the nation. The book, which features fifty black and white photographs taken by Clark in 1963, 1968, and 1971, reveal the dark side of American youth culture in the heartland of America. Drugs, sex, and guns were front and center, as much the subject of the book as the people themselves with Clark a participant, rather than a voyeur. He brought a new level of authenticity to his work, and in doing so Tulsa changed the very nature of documentary photography itself.
Forty-five years after the book’s release, a new exhibition of photographs adds a new layer of perspectives to the story of this work in Unruly Bodies: Dismantling Larry Clark’s Tulsa at the California Museum of Photography UCR ARTSblock, Riverside, now through January 28, 2017. Curated by graduate students from the History of Art and the Public History Program, Unruly Bodies speaks to the new generation reflecting on the past, reflecting on Clark’s watershed moment in contemporary photography, pairing his work alongside that of Danny Lyon, Bill Eppridge, and W. Eugene Smith to critical effect.
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Photo: Larry Clark, Untitled, 1963, from the series “Tulsa,” 1963-71. © Larry Clark; Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.