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 and documents key artists of the time, with candid portraits of artists in
their homes and studios, and documentary photographs of exhibitions, exhibition openings and
installations, 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 Galerie 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 in addition to
documenting exhibitions, exhibition openings and installations, performances, and other
events. By the 1960s they had 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, and 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 that Shunk and Kender shared with artists and demonstrates their profound
understanding of the creative process. 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