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Shunk (Harry) and Shunk-Kender photographs, 1957-1990s, undated
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical / Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Harry Shunk and Shunk-Kender photographs
    Date (inclusive): 1957-1990s
    Number: 2014.R.20
    Creator/Collector: Shunk, Harry
    Creator/Collector: Shunk-Kender
    Creator/Collector: Kender, Janos
    Physical Description: 240.81 Linear Feet (334 boxes and 1 flatfile folder)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    Business Number: (310) 440-7390
    Fax Number: (310) 440-7780
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: 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.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in English .

    Biographical / Historical Note

    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 art.

    Administrative Information


    Partially processed; contact repository for information regarding access.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Harry Shunk and Shunk-Kender photographs, 1957-1987, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2014.R.20

    Processing History

    Laura Schroffel encoded the finding aid, completed processing of the black-and-white photographs and 35mm negatives, and enhanced the description of the collection in 2014 and 2015. Box numbers for the black-and-white 35mm negatives are temporary and will be changed after further processing.
    Sarah Mackenzie Wade enhanced the description of the collection in 2019 to reflect her processing of the color negatives, prints, slides, and transparencies.
    The following material is unprocessed at this time: black-and-white contact sheets, 4x5 and 6x6 negatives; and various papers. The finding aid will be updated as other materials become available.

    Digitized Material

    Selected images from Series I. and Series II. have been digitized: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/2014r20 

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Harry Shunk and Shunk-Kender archive contains photographs, negatives, contact sheets, slides, transparencies and working materials. Photographs dated after 1973, when Shunk and Kender dissolved their partnership, are attributed solely to Harry Shunk. There are several photographs included in this collection that are attributed to various outside photographers who documented the same events as Shunk-Kender. The current container list for this collection is preliminary and only describes content for approximately 26,000 black-and-white photographic prints; approximately 2,300 rolls of 35mm black-and-white film; approximately 60 color photographs; and 75 binders of color slides, negatives, and transparencies.
    Series I contains Shunk and Kender's most extensive body of work documenting artworks and key artists of their time, including candid portraits of artists in their homes and studios, as well as photographs of the installation process, exhibitions, exhibition openings, performances, events, and occasionally editorial work for Interview magazine.
    Series II comprises Shunk and Kender's personal photography projects such as documentation of street scenes, images of their home life, and political events. An erotic photography project is also found here. Shunk and Kender's photocollages make up part of this series. These artistic photographic works typically combined images of New York skyscrapers paired with nude females.
    The various papers contained in Series III are made up of Shunk and Kender's working materials such as notes and photographic housing.
    Series IV contains parially processed color photographic materials that will be integrated into Series I and Series II at a later date. Materials in this series may require further processing before they can be made available.
    At this time only the photographic prints; 35mm negatives; and color slides, negatives, and transparencies are processed and available for research. Box numbers for the negatives are temporary and will be changed after further processing. When specific formats are not noted for events in Series I and Series II, the materials for the events described are black-and-white prints. The following material is unprocessed at this time: contact sheets; 4x5 and 6x6 negatives; various papers. The finding aid will be updated as other materials become available.
    Master image numbers were devised by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation and are assigned to every photograph. Master numbers that begin with PH, CC, or WA comprise the Darryl Kelly collection. The Darryl Kelly Collection was purchased by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in 2012 and is made up of Shunk and Shunk-Kender works previously discarded by the Manhattan public administrator during the post-mortem cleanup of Harry Shunk's Westbeth studio. Image numbers between 37504 and 37749 were assigned by the Getty cataloger. Event numbers were devised by Getty catalogers in order to organize Shunk projects within the Getty's digital repository.
    Some black-and white content has been digitized by the Getty; that digitization is not comprehensive. The color images currently digitized were done so under the auspices of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. The original formats of these digitized color images are most likely 35mm color slides or color transparencies, but they have not been verified against the Getty's physical holdings.


    The collection is arranged in four series: Series I. Artist projects, 1957-1990s; Series II. Shunk and Kender photography projects, 1957-1970s; Series III. Various papers. Series IV. Partially processed materials, 1960-1970, undated;

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Arman, 1928-2005
    Fautrier, Jean, 1898-1964
    Christo, 1935-
    Rotella, Mimmo, 1918-2006
    Saint-Phalle, Niki de, 1930-2002
    Rauschenberg, Robert, 1925-2008
    Rosenquist, James, 1933-2017
    Tinguely, Jean, 1925-1991
    Warhol, Andy, 1928-1987
    Sonnabend, Ileana
    Spoerri, Daniel, 1930-
    Johns, Jasper, 1930-
    Fontana, Lucio, 1899-1968
    Jeanne-Claude, 1935-2009
    Mathieu, Georges, 1921-2012
    Oldenburg, Claes, 1929-
    Klein, Yves, 1928-1962
    Lichtenstein, Roy, 1923-1997

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Galerie J (Paris, France)

    Subjects - Topics

    Art exhibitions -- 20th century
    Artists -- Portraits
    Artists' studios
    Happening (Art)
    Installations (Art)
    Performance art
    Photography, Erotic
    Street photography

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Color negatives
    Color photographs
    Color slides -- 20th century
    Color transparencies -- 20th century
    Contact sheets -- 20th century
    Gelatin silver prints -- 20th century
    Gelatin silver negatives -- 20th century
    Photographs, Original


    Christo, 1935-
    Arman, 1928-2005
    Fontana, Lucio, 1899-1968
    Fautrier, Jean, 1898-1964
    Saint-Phalle, Niki de, 1930-2002
    Shunk, Harry
    Rosenquist, James, 1933-2017
    Rotella, Mimmo, 1918-2006
    Tinguely, Jean, 1925-1991
    Warhol, Andy, 1928-1987
    Spoerri, Daniel, 1930-
    Johns, Jasper, 1930-
    Klein, Yves, 1928-1962
    Kender, Janos
    Jeanne-Claude, 1935-2009
    Oldenburg, Claes, 1929-
    Rauschenberg, Robert, 1925-2008
    Lichtenstein, Roy, 1923-1997
    Mathieu, Georges, 1921-2012