Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Shunk (Harry) and Shunk-Kender photographs, 1957-1990s
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (1.46 Mb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Overview
Table of contents What's This?
Harry Shunk and his partner Janos Kender worked as photographers recording the art world from the 1950s to the 1970s in the United States and Europe. Their extensive photography archive contains iconic images from the post-war era documenting key artists of the time, including candid portraits of artists in their homes and studios, as well as the installation process, exhibitions, exhibition openings, performances, and other events.
Harry Shunk (1924-2006) was born in Reudnitz, Germany and moved to Paris in his teens. At age 15 he worked as a studio assistant to the photographer Dora Kallmus and from her learned photographic technique. Shunk worked with Kallmus for two years and then set off on his own as a photographer. In the 1950s Shunk became affiliated with Janos Kender (1938-2009). Kender, a Hungarian, had fled to France in order to escape the revolution in his country. The two photographers developed a romantic and professional partnership that flourished until the 1970s. Shunk's friendship with artist Dora Tuynman facilitated their introduction to a circle of artists, gallerists and galleries for whom they worked as documentarians. This circle included Yves Klein, Arman, Jean Tinguely, Jean Fautrier, Georges Mathieu, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Daniel Spoerri, Jacques Villeglé as well as Galerie Iris Clert, Galerie J and Ileana Sonnabend. Shunk and Kender often stayed with artists or travelled with them as they installed exhibitions and staged events. They captured intimate and candid portraits of artists in their homes and studios, as well as the installation process, exhibitions, openings, performances, and other events. By the 1960s they also had developed productive relationships with a group of American artists including Claes Oldenburg, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, George Segal, Andy Warhol, Christo and Jeanne-Claude. In 1967 Shunk and Kender moved to Canada and then to New York. During the late 1960s and early 1970s they continued to travel and document artists and their work, and numerous important exhibitions. The partnership lasted until 1973; Shunk continued to record artists and the art world independently until the 1980s. Their oeuvre serves as evidence of the close relationships Shunk and Kender shared with artists and evidences a profound understanding of their creative processes. In the few decades when they were most active they captured the intense and rapid shifts in the art world documenting such movements as Nouveau Realism, Pop art, Minimalism, Post Minimalism, conceptual art and performance art.
165 Linear Feet (247 boxes and 1 flatfile folder)
Contact Library Reproductions and Permissions.
Partially processed; contact repository for information regarding access.