Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr.
Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr. has served as executive director of the Gordon Parks Foundation since 2011, following five years as part of the organization’s leadership team. He oversees the Foundation’s exhibitions, publications, critical research projects, and public programs organized with institutions internationally and at its exhibition space in Pleasantville, New York, as well as the artist’s archive.
Under his leadership, the Foundation created the Gordon Parks Foundation Scholarships and Prizes program, which has conferred over $1.5 million in scholarships and prizes to more than 150 students at 10 educational institutions since its inception in 2009. During his tenure, the Foundation also established the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship Program, which has awarded 14 fellowships to photographers, artists, filmmakers, and writers whose work addresses themes of representation and social justice. In 2019, he oversaw the launch of The Gordon Parks Arts and Social Justice Fund dedicated to supporting these educational initiatives, as well as the creation of the Gordon Parks Foundation / Steidl Book Prize, which serves as a publishing platform for artists whose practice reflects and extends Gordon Parks’ legacy. The recipient of the annual prize develops a book of new work published and distributed by Steidl, one of the leading art book publishers internationally.
As an extension of his role at the Foundation, Kunhardt additionally serves as series editor of Steidl/Gordon Parks Foundation publications. Among the major publications he has coedited is the multivolume Gordon Parks: Collected Works (Steidl, 2012), which features five decades of Parks’ photography and is the most extensive publication to document his legendary career. Gordon Parks exhibitions and catalogues in which he has been involved include Gordon Parks: A Harlem Family 1967 (The Studio Museum in Harlem, 2012); Gordon Parks: The Making of an Argument (New Orleans Museum of Art, 2013); Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2015); Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem (The Art Institute of Chicago, 2016); Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940–1950 (National Gallery of Art, 2018-19); Gordon Parks X Muhammad Ali (Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2019); The Atmosphere of Crime, 1957 (The Museum of Modern Art, 2020), Gordon Parks: Stokely Carmichael and Black Power (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2022); Gordon Parks: Pittsburgh Grease Plant, 1944/46 (Carnegie Museum of Art, 2022); and Gordon Parks: Segregation Story (Expanded Edition, 2022). He is also involved in other Gordon Parks Foundation-produced publications such as Ralph Ellison: Photographer (2022), and Gordon Parks Foundation/Steidl Book Prize publications such as LaToya Ruby Frazier: Flint Is Family In Three Acts (2022) and Jamel Shabazz: Albums (2022).
Kunhardt has also served since 2011 as executive director of the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation, where he oversaw the preservation of the Meserve-Kunhardt Collection of 19th century photography which now resides at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. He is also responsible for the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation’s acquisition of the archive of LIFE photographer Ed Clark and children’s book author Dorothy Kunhardt. Kunhardt has co-authored publications on these collections, including three books on Abraham Lincoln, Ed Clark: On Assignment 1931-1962 (Steidl, 2020), and Dorothy Kunhardt: Collected Works (2022)