Lichtenstein Foundation Donates Shunk-Kender Collection of Photographs


Harry Shunk and Janos Kender, Yves Klein, Leap into the Void, 1960. ©Roy Lichtenstein FoundationHarry Shunk and Janos Kender, Yves Klein, Leap into the Void, 1960. ©Roy Lichtenstein Foundation

The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation is giving 200,000 photographs from the Shunk-Kender Photography Collection to five major institutions. The collection includes black-and-white prints, color prints, negatives and contact sheets taken by Harry Shunk and Janos Kender between 1958 and 1973, as well as photographs taken by Harry Shunk alone. The donation establishes a consortium of the five institutions — the Getty Research Institute, The Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, Centre Pompidou and the Tate – that will receive and share the materials. 

The photographs include images of more than 400 artists in their studios, at events, and in the midst of performances. The many artists photographed by Shunk and Kender include Vito Acconci, Arman, Joseph Beuys, Lee Bontecou, Trisha Brown, Alexander Calder, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Merce Cunningham, Lucio Fontana, the Gutai Group, Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Yayoi Kusama, Joan Miró, Bruce Nauman, Barnett Newman, Nam June Paik, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Man Ray, Robert Rauschenberg, Lou Reed, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol and Lawrence Weiner. Also in the collection, the famous Shunk-Kender image of an airborne Yves Klein, Leap Into the Void (1960).

Shunk and Kender met in Paris in 1957, and the men began working as partners in 1958, formally crediting all their photographs as a new identity: “Shunk-Kender.” They left Paris for Canada in 1967 and then relocated to New York City. In late 1973, they formally dissolved their creative partnership. The photographs were in danger of being lost after the death of Shunk in 2006, when the Foundation acquired them from the Estate.