Former Vietnam veteran, prison inmate and junkie (“once the needle goes in it never comes out”), Clark has a kind of coiled, unpredictable energy.

– Tobias Grey (Photographer Larry Clark’s muses’, Financial Times, Oct. 30, 2010)

Billy Mann 1963. © Larry Clark/Luhring Augustine, New York and Simon Lee Gallery, London.

Printed on the salmon-pink pages of the FT (the global leader in financial news), Larry Clark‘s latest interview about his counterculture subjects and his casual anti-commercial philosophy carries some irony.

Then again, perhaps not. Clark’s refusal to market and remarket his books and prints has led to scarcity – the result? Prices have been driven up:

“Clark refused to let either of his most famous books, the harrowing and explicit Tulsa and Teenage Lust, be republished. He finally did a couple of print-runs with Tulsa 10 years ago, but Teenage Lust is still out of circulation and as such a valuable collector’s item. Earlier this year, at an auction at Sotheby’s in London, a single print from Teenage Lust sold for £7,800.”

In his fifties, Clark learnt to skate to keep up with his cast for Kids. He believes that to photograph a youth culture you have to be in it. It must be difficult for Clark to have the city hall in Paris ban under-18s from entry to Kiss the Past Hello, his exhibition at Musée d’Art Moderne, “I think it’s just the stupidest thing in the world,” says Clark. “I think it’s an attack on youth and on teenagers in general.”

It’s difficult to argue against Clark’s indelible mark on American visual culture. Every hipster, skater, urban-wannabee and romantic sees their lives through the American-Apparel-Levi’s-Ryan-McGinley-Dash-Snow-Hamburger-Eyes-Zoolander-Derelicte images that advertisers, Polaroid & film enthusiasts create as facsimiles to Clark’s seductive and brutal works.

Again, irony reigns as advertisers define a slightly mucky but not diseased world in which they can place their products; a world that looks like Clark’s but is some distance from it. With that in mind, I think Tobias Grey‘s point has some weight:

“As a contemporary and admirer of Diane Arbus and W Eugene Smith, Clark is perhaps the last survivor to bridge the classic era of black-and-white photography and the present.”

Clark has ran and defined the continuum.

Read the article. Clark’s closing empathy for childhood movie stars is surprising and honest; he made collages to honor them.

Kiss the Past Hello’, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, until January 2 2011.


Like last weeks FT article on Leibowitz’s interaction with the market, this portrayal of Clark and his motives is well-written, even endearing. The FT Weekend has had articles on Martin Parr and Cameraless Photography in recent weeks too.

It was a mandatory choice of an airmiles-earned printed daily that brought the FT to my door, but I’ll admit I’m looking forward to my Saturday morning reads more and more.