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Larry Fink, Whose Photographs Were ‘Political, Not Polemical,’ Dies at 82

Larry Fink, Whose Photographs Were ‘Political, Not Polemical,’ Dies at 82


“He treated the classroom like it was the Village Vanguard,” said Tim Davis, a former student and an associate professor of photography at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., where Mr. Fink taught for three decades. “It was completely improvisatory. A critique would involve mouth trumpet sounds, his own poetic raps and scat singing; maybe at some point he’d pull out his harmonica. On the one hand, it kneecapped the whole idea of art education, and on the other, if you were listening, it was completely profound.”

Before joining the photography department at Bard in 1988, Mr. Fink taught at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York University and Yale. He retired in 2017.

In addition to Ms. Posner, whom he wooed with a bouquet of red peppers and married in 2000, Mr. Fink is survived by his daughter, Molly Snyder-Fink, and a grandson. His marriage to Ms. Snyder, in 1969, ended in divorce, as did his second marriage, to Pia Staniek.

Mr. Fink was the recipient of two Guggenheim fellowships, in 1976 and 1979. His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among many other institutions in the United States and abroad. He worked on assignment for numerous publications, including Manhattan, Inc., Vanity Fair and The New York Times, and was the author of 12 books.

This year, The Times asked prominent photographers of a certain age to turn the camera on themselves and what mattered to them. Mr. Fink photographed himself in extreme close-up, his expressive face smushed into the camera’s frame, one bushy eyebrow raised. And he photographed Ms. Posner in her studio, amid a riot of brushes and paint tubes, looking quizzical and lovely and a bit like the subject of an old master painting.

“The crescendo of my life is over,” Mr. Fink told The Times, “and the crashing waves are soon to come.” But, he added: “Basically, I’m still jumping around. Whatever that’s worth, it’s fun to be alive. I’ll tell you what: I really love my wife.”

To which Ms. Posner said, “Say somewhere in the interview that I love Larry, too.”



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