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.