Larry Fink: Primal Empathy

Larry Fink, First Communion, Bronx, NY, 1961, from the series "Making Out 1957-1
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On View Oct 19, 2018 - Mar 10, 2019
Exhibition Location: Museum

Dewey Family Gallery

Renowned photographer Larry Fink creates intimate, nuanced images of human interaction. Suspended in the light of his camera’s flash, his subjects are absorbed in sensual connection, unspoken familiarity, and comic revelry. Drawn from deCordova’s permanent collection, this exhibition focuses on the central role of empathy in Fink’s work. Whether photographing members of elite society or rural farmers, empathy fuels his curiosity about our shared humanity and shapes his decisions for lighting, framing, and positioning his subjects.

Fink states that “empathy isn't necessarily only about goodness or about, ‘Oh, I empathize with you’ as in sorrow, or something sentimental. Empathy, in my way of thinking about it, is more primal: it's an animality informed by complex consciousness. It could involve any emotion." This unprecedented exhibition explores Fink’s critical compassion across series that span his extensive career, including his best-known project Social Graces, his surprisingly tender images of boxers, and close studies of flora and fauna around his Pennsylvania farm. Shown together, they confirm Fink’s lifelong quest for direct and personally felt experiences with those around him.

Organized by Sarah Montross, Associate Curator, with Scout Hutchinson, Curatorial Assistant.

Press Release

Larry Fink (b. 1941, lives in Easton, PA) has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1979) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1997), among other major institutions. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships (1976, 1979) and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1978, 1976), and was the recipient of the International Center of Photography’s 2015 Infinity Award for Art. His photographs have been published in Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, and The New Yorker, and he has published several books. Fink has taught for over forty years, most recently as a tenured professor at Bard College in Annandale-On-Hudson, New York.