Larry Fink, photographer who contrasted social classes, dead at 82

NEW YORK — Larry Fink, an acclaimed and adventurous photographer whose subjects ranged from family portraits and political satire to working class lives and the elite of show business and Manhattan society, has died at 82.

Robert Mann, owner of the Robert Mann Gallery, told The Associated Press that Fink died Saturday at his home in Martins Creek, Pennsylvania. Mann did not cite a specific cause of death, but said that Fink had been in failing health.

“He was a dear friend and a real free spirit,” Mann said. “I’ve known people like Robert Frank and Ansel Adams and Larry stood out. He was an exceptional and unique individual, a very unconventional man, not only in his personality, but in his photography.”

A “self-described Marxist from Long Island,” Fink was best known for “Social Graces,” a 1979 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in which black and white photos of wealthy New Yorkers were juxtaposed against shots of everyday life of families in Martins Creek, Fink’s longtime home. The series was published in book form in 1984.

He would go on to work for The New York, Times, Vanity Fair and other publications, photographing such celebrities as Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman and Kate Winslet. He would also spoof President George W. Bush and other political leaders, while remaining close to a Martin Creeks family, the Sabatines, who appeared often in his work. Fink had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art among other galleries, and he received numerous honors, including two John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships.

Fink, who first took up photography at 13 and later studied under photographer Lisette Model, had a professional life that reflected the diverse outlooks of his parents. He grew up in a politicized family that scorned the free market, while also enjoying stylish automobiles and high-end parties. In the early 1960s, Fink moved to Greenwich Village in New York City, with dreams that he was undertaking not just a career, but a revolution.

“Of course the revolution didn’t quite get there so I was left with a career,” he told Blind Magazine in 2021.

Fink’s survivors include his second wife, the artist Martha Posner, and a daughter, Molly, from his marriage to painter Joan Snyder.


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