Larry Clark in 2013 at the Deauville American Film Festival.
Lawrence Donald Clark
January 19, 1943
Lawrence Donald Clark (born January 19, 1943) is an American film director, photographer, writer and film producer who is best known for his controversial teen film Kids (1995) and his photography book Tulsa. His work focuses primarily on youth who casually engage in illegal drug use, underage sex, and violence, and who are part of a specific subculture, such as surfing, punk rock, or skateboarding.
Clark was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He learned photography at an early age. His mother was an itinerant baby photographer, and he was enlisted in the family business from the age of 13. His father was a traveling sales manager for the Reader Service Bureau, selling books and magazines door-to-door, and was rarely home. In 1959, Clark began injecting amphetamines with his friends.
In 1964, he moved to New York City to freelance, but was drafted within two months into the United States Army. From 1964 to 1965, he served in the Vietnam War in a unit that supplied ammunition to units fighting in the north. His experiences there led him to publish the 1971 book Tulsa, a photo documentary illustrating his young friends' drug use in black and white.
Routinely carrying a camera, from 1963 to 1971 Clark produced pictures of his drug-shooting coterie that have been described by critics as "exposing the reality of American suburban life at the fringe and ... shattering long-held mythical conventions that drugs and violence were an experience solely indicative of the urban landscape."
His follow-up was Teenage Lust (1983), an "autobiography" of his teen past through the images of others. It included his family photos, more teenage drug use, graphic pictures of teenage sexual activity, and young male hustlers in Times Square, New York City. Clark constructed a photographic essay titled "The Perfect Childhood" that examined the effect of media in youth culture. His photographs are part of public collections at several art museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Photographic Arts, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
In 1993, Clark directed Chris Isaak's music video "Solitary Man". This experience developed into an interest in film direction. After publishing other photographic collections, Clark met Harmony Korine in New York City and asked Korine to write the screenplay for his first feature film Kids, which was released to controversy and mixed critical reception in 1995. Clark continued directing, filming a handful of additional independent feature films in the several years after this.
In 2002, Clark spent several hours in a police cell after punching and trying to strangle Hamish McAlpine, the head of Metro Tartan, the UK distributor for Clark's film Ken Park. According to McAlpine, who was left with a broken nose, the incident arose from an argument about Israel and the Middle East, and he claims that he did not provoke Clark.
In a 2016 interview, Clark discussed his lifelong struggle with drug abuse, although stating he maintained total sobriety while filmmaking. Clark stated that his films were made in periods of complete sobriety. He confessed that the only exception made to his practice of abstinence while filming was Marfa Girl. Clark explained that while filming that movie he used opiates for pain due to double knee replacement surgery.
Film critics who do not find social or artistic value in Clark's work have labeled his films obscene, exploitative, and borderline child pornography because of their frequent and explicit depictions of teenagers using drugs and having sex. However, Roger Ebert was a fan of his work, giving positive reviews to Kids, Another Day in Paradise, Bully, and Wassup Rockers.
In Kids (1995), his most widely known film, boys portrayed as being as young as 12 are shown to be casually drinking alcohol and using other drugs. The film received an NC-17 rating, and was later released without a rating when Disney bought Miramax.
Ken Park is a more sexually and violently graphic film than Kids, including a scene of auto-erotic asphyxiation and ejaculation by an emotionally rattled high-school boy (portrayed by James Ransone, then in his early 20s). As of 2015[update], it has not been widely released or distributed in the United States.
In 2015, Clark collaborated alongside notable skateboard and clothing brand, Supreme, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of 'Kids' with a collection of decks, T-Shirts, and sweatshirts that feature stills from the iconic film. The collection dropped on May 21 of 2015 in Supreme's New York, Los Angeles, and London locations and on May 23 in their Japan location.
In Australia, Ken Park was banned for its graphic sexual content, and a protest screening held in response was immediately shut down by the police. Australian film critic Margaret Pomeranz, co-host of At the Movies, was almost arrested for screening the film at a hall. The film was not released in the United States, but Clark says that it was because of the producer's failure to get releases for the music used.
Clark has won the top prizes at the Cognac Festival du Film Policier (for Another Day in Paradise), the Stockholm Film Festival (for Bully) and the Rome Film Festival (for Marfa Girl). He has also competed for the Golden Palm (Kids) and Golden Lion (Bully).
Clark is represented by Simon Lee Gallery in London and the Luhring Augustine Gallery in New York City. He has one son (Matthew) and one daughter (Julianna).
- Kids (1995)
- Another Day in Paradise (1998)
- Bully (2001)
- Teenage Caveman (2002, television film)
- Ken Park (2002)
- Wassup Rockers (2005)
- Destricted (2006, with various other artists)
- Marfa Girl (2012)
- The Smell of Us (2014, French)
- Marfa Girl 2 (2018)
- "Larry Clark at International Center of Photography". www.icp.org. Retrieved December 31, 2016.
- "WTF Podcast #749, Larry Clark". WTF Podcast. Marc Maron. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
- "Broadcast Yourself". YouTube. Retrieved September 22, 2010.
- "PAVEMENT MAGAZINE - Larry Clark". August 3, 2002. Archived from the original on August 3, 2002. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
- "Larry Clark Switches Wild Child for 'Savage Innocent'". Ioncinema.com. Retrieved September 22, 2010.
- "Larry Clark – Kids. A Film by Larry Clark". Schaden.com. Retrieved September 22, 2010.
- "Harmony-Korine.com - Interviews/Articles: Larry Clark". harmony-korine.com. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
- Hoggard, Liz (November 17, 2002). "Hamish McAlpine: controversial film boss". the Guardian. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
- "The Most Controversial Movie Directors". Highsnobiety. September 3, 2015. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
- Ebert, Roger. "Kids Movie Review & Film Summary (1995) - Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
- Ebert, Roger. "Another Day In Paradise Movie Review (1999) - Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
- Ebert, Roger. "Bully Movie Review & Film Summary (2001) - Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
- Ebert, Roger. "Wassup Rockers Movie Review & Film Summary (2006) - Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
- "Supreme Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of 'Kids' With a Special Collection Dropping This Week". Complex.
- "Ken Park ban 'sadly archaic'". theage.com.au. July 4, 2003. Retrieved September 22, 2010.
- "theage.com.au". The Age. July 4, 2003. Retrieved September 22, 2010.
- "The Never Interview: Larry Clark". Never. September 20, 2006. Archived from the original on December 27, 2013.
- "Review: 'Marfa Girl 2,' Larry Clark's Sequel to One of His Least-Known Films". Retrieved November 3, 2018.