Larry Clark - Tulsa, 1971

The photographic series 'Tulsa, 1971' by the American artist Larry Clark (1943) portraying himself and his friends

19 January 2005 to 24 April 2005

Larry Clark (1943) was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When he was around fifteen years of age he came into contact with young people who used amphetamine, and it didn’t take long before he was using heroin on a daily basis. After leaving high school, he nevertheless summoned the spirit to study photography. Having gained his diploma and having served two years in Vietnam, Clark began to photograph his friends and himself in Tulsa. He became addicted again and, in his clearer moments, he and his camera recorded how they toyed with their lives.

With the publication of his book of photographs Tulsa in 1971, Clark immediately made a name for himself as a controversial photographer. His talent was undeniable, but the scenes shown were simply too shocking for many critics. In Tulsa, Clark guides the viewer through a chilly, hard world in which drug, crime, and sex predominate. ‘I didn’t take these photographs as a voyeur, but as a participant in the phenomenon,’ Clark explains. ‘They tell something about my life, about my experience of trust, anxiety, death, and sexuality. My work focuses on the loss of innocence. As people become adults they lose the right to innocence, but with some people that already happens during puberty.’ The Groninger Museum bought the Tulsa photographic series in 1998.