During the course of her 40‑year career, Mary Ellen Mark has created some truly iconic images. Her influence on the photo world cannot be denied. But who are some of the photographers the artist herself admires? The answer can be found all over the walls of Mark's Manhattan studio.
"On the larger wall right above my messy desk I have several prints, some I bought and some I traded for over the years," she says. "I have a Sally Mann, an Irving Penn of Somerset Maughn, a Graciela Iturbide, two Cartier‑Bressons ‑one of two guys poking through a manhole; the other a graphic piece of figures, taken in Spain‑ a Diane Arbus, Charles Moore's photo of Martin Luther King Jr., a Toni Frissell, a Helen Levitt, an FSA print of Dorothea Lange's from the Library of Congress, a Larry Clark of a boy with a gun, a small Harry Benson print of the Beatles that I bought in a flea market."
In all, Mark has 70 prints on display: 56 on the main wall, 6 more on a smaller wall and a few more she's hung in the bathroom.
"When I started collecting, 20‑plus years ago, photographs weren't that expensive. I just wish I'd collected more. I had a lot of opportunities that I passed up and for which I'm really upset about…like not buying an Arbus print in the Eighties that I really, really wanted. But I've also traded a lot of my photos for other photographers' work. It's what we as photographers do." For instance, Mark has Arnold Newman's images of Alfred Steiglitz and Georgia O'Keefe, and Newman has her image of director Federico Fellini on the set of Satyricon.
Mark admits that there are another 40 images hanging on the walls in her home‑among them 9 more Cartier‑Bressons, 2 Berenice Abbotts and a couple of Helmut Newtons‑as well as several more photos just sitting in boxes.
"Hey, I only have a limited number of walls," she laughs.