Larry Clark was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1943. While a teenager Clark developed his photography skills working as an assistant to his mother, a door-to-door baby photographer. He later spent two years at a commercial photography school. Larry Clark achieved both fame and notoriety with the publication of his first book Tulsa in 1971. Shot sporadically between 1963 and 1971, the book graphically documented the hard drug underworld of Tulsa. Although drug use, sex and violence are the main themes, the images are often beautifully composed and his subjects are sympathetically presented. Tulsa, often compared to Robert Frank's book, The Americans, demonstrated a new style of photography that was subjective, alienated and completely detached from any social agenda. Clark raised the ante for engaged photography; his work offered a lived experience rather than a merely observed one.
His subsequent photographic work explored themes of emerging masculinity by focusing on teenage boys that Clark felt were both "sexualized and demonized." In his collages and videos of the late 1980s and early 1990s, he broadened this investigation into revealing the ways that mass media alternately creates, rejects, and eroticizes young people. Stills from his video pieces were shown in his first and second solo exhibitions at the Luhring Augustine gallery in New York in 1990 and 1992. In 1995, Clark released his first feature film, Kids, which premiered at that year's Sundance Film Festival and was hailed as "an instant classic" and "a wake-up call." Kids was followed by the films Another Day in Paradise (1998), Bully (2001), Teenage Caveman (2001), Ken Park (2003), WASSUP ROCKERS (2005), and the autobiographical installation and publication punk Picasso (2003). Marfa Girl (2012) is the most recent film written and directed by Clark; the film was released independently on his website (www.larryclark.com) and won the Marcus Aurelius Award for Best Film at the 2012 Rome Film Festival. His new film The Smell of Us, written and filmed in Paris, France, is currently in production.
Clark has been the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts' Photographers' Fellowship in 1973 and the Creative Arts Public Service Photographers' Grant in 1980. He continues to exhibit his artwork worldwide and his work is included in the collections of numerous important museum and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Frankfurt Museum für Moderne Kunst, Germany. A retrospective of Clark's work, Kiss the past hello, was held at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in the fall of 2010. He lives and works in New York.