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Larry Clark

1968, printed 1972

Not on view

1968, printed 1972


Gelatin silver print

Sheet: 10 × 8in. (25.4 × 20.3 cm) Image: 8 7/16 × 5 3/4in. (21.4 × 14.6 cm) Frame: 17 9/16 × 14 9/16in. (44.6 × 37 cm)

Accession number


Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Photography Committee

Rights and reproductions
© Larry Clark

Larry Clark’s photographic book, Tulsa, comprises images of the artist’s own subculture, taken on trips to his Oklahoma hometown. Unlike most photojournalistic representations of life on the margins, the photographer is as much participant as he is observer—Clark himself appears in one of the photographs and his written narrative establishes a personal connection to his subjects. Seen together, the images offer a kind of cinematic narrative that traces the lives and deaths of Clark’s amphetamine-addicted friends.  This untitled photograph from Tulsa shows Clark’s friend Billy Mann, one of two sitters identified by name in the book. Mann, who died of an overdose in 1970, sits bare-chested in front of a plain white wall calmly holding a gun; his pensive expression is directed at something outside the frame. The opposite page bears a stark caption: “death is more perfect than life.” Clark’s remark is characteristic of the matter-of-fact sentiments expressed in Tulsa. The photographs are unsparing yet free of moral judgment. With its white backdrop, pale light, and affected pose, the portrait of Mann resembles a studio picture. Here, as in many of the photographs, Clark’s aesthetic concerns cloak his desolate subjects in an armor of toughness and grace.  

Part of a portfolio:


10 works



A 30-second online art project:
Ryan Kuo, Hateful Little Thing

Learn more

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