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[Flavio da Silva resting after an asthma attack, Rio de Janiero]

Date 1961
Location Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Dimensions Other: 13 1/8 x 8 5/8 in. (33.3 x 21.9 cm)
Overall: 13 1/8 x 8 5/8 in. (33.3 x 21.9 cm)
Print medium Photo-Gelatin silver

Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection
Section: Social change
Sent to document poverty in Latin America, Gordon Parks befriended twelve-year-old Flávio da Silva (b. 1949) and his family, who lived in a favela near Rio de Janiero. Parks’s photoessay, “Freedom’s Fearful Foe: Poverty,” was published in the June 16, 1961, issue of Life magazine, and made Flávio a poverty poster child. Suffering from asthma, Flávio is seen here resting in a pose reminiscent of Andrea Mantegna’s fifteenth-century painting Lamentation of Christ. Readers were moved by Parks’s sensitive and dignified images of extreme privation; they sent the magazine more than three thousand letters and $30,000 ($250,000 in today’s money) to be used to help the da Silva family and their neighborhood. Life used the money to bring Flávio to the United States to treat his asthma, buy the family a new house in a different area, and improve the quality of life in the favela.


© Gordon Parks
For reproduction please contact Gordon Parks Foundation, a division of the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation

Credit line

Museum Purchase, International Fund for Concerned Photography, 1974

Feedback Accession No. 359.1974