Highlights of a Trip to Hell: Contextualizing the Initial Receptions of Larry Clark's Tulsa
thesisposted on 24.05.2021, 12:11 by William T. Green
Released in 1971, Tulsa, American artist Larry Clark's career-launching first photobook, is today remembered as marking a watershed moment in American photography. This paper travels back to the era that Tulsa was first published to examine the book's initial critical reception and significance within that specific cultural and artistic climate. It presents an abbreviated overview of Tulsa's gradual creation; illustrates the ways in which the book was both similar to and different from other commonly cited contemporaneous works; and surveys its evolving status and reputation throughout the 1970s and into the early 1980s, when its second edition was published. This paper ultimately argues that Tulsa's critical success and current iconic cultural status was neither as immediate nor as consistent as previous accounts have led us to believe, but was instead the result of both Clark's unrelenting perseverance and the exciting time period in which it came of age.