Larry Clark is arguably one of the most controversial and influential photographers of the past fifty years. As a former amphetamine addict and convicted felon, his documentary images of sex, violence, and drug abuse are often autobiographical. In exposing aspects of American youth subculture, Clark presents photographs that are at once journalistic and oddly romantic, garnering a mix of sharp criticism and admiration for his discomfiting honesty.
Tulsa (1971), the artist’s first photo-essay, chronicles the disintegration of the American dream through depictions of reckless adolescents participating in self-destructive activities. Considered together in book form, his photographs constitute a memoir of sorts; Clark records misspent adolescence from an insider’s perspective. The result is shockingly raw imagery that possesses a gritty intimacy, simultaneously appealing and appalling to the viewer.
Larry Clark’s brutally frank personal testament has achieved almost mythic status. In revealing his own personal involvement as both participant and voyeur, Tulsa set the precedent for an entire generation of artists engaged in the exploration of taboo subject matter. Clark chose the ten images that comprise this portfolio as a selection of the most iconic images from Tulsa.