Author(s): Chloè Goulach
The photographic duo Shunk and Kender created the defining images of the international avant-garde of the 1960s and '70s. In late 1950s/early 1960s Paris, Shunk and Kender were close to the New Realist artists, and as a result produced what remains probably their most famous photograph: Leap into the Void, the portrait of Yves Klein jumping from a wall. They also photographed Niki de Saint Phalle's famous gun performances and the performance dinners of Daniel Spoerri. Established in New York from 1967, Shunk and Kender photographed Andy Warhol and his Factory entourage, recorded the performances of Yayoi Kusama, Trisha Brown and many others, and participated in the avant-garde exhibitions of their time, such as Pier 18 at the Museum of Modern Art (1971).Much more than mere documentation, Shunk and Kender's photographs were truly collaborative and participatory in spirit, and in many cases now provide the sole evidence of the performances, happenings and other unique events of that time.This gorgeously produced, nearly 500-page volume from Xavier Barral accompanies the first Shunk-Kender retrospective, held at the Centre Pompidou, and is based on a selection of more than 10,000 vintage prints from the Kandinsky Library, which entered into the Pompidou's collection in 2008 through a donation from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. Shunk-Kender: Art through the Eye of the Camera is the ultimate account of the heady days of American and European postwar art, and a defining example of that fascinating but rarely acknowledged photographic genre: photography-of-art as art.The German photographer Harry Shunk (1924-2006) and his Hungarian partner J nos Kender (1938-2009) produced some of the most iconic images of postwar European and American art. In 2013, the Museum of Modern Art acquired over 600 works from the Shunk-Kender Photography Collection as a gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. This donation established a consortium across five institutions--the Getty Research Institute, the National Gallery of Art, Centre Pompidou, Tate and MoMA--that together received the full Shunk-Kender archive.