Posts Tagged ‘whitney museum of american art

23
Sep
21

Exhibition: ‘Dawoud Bey: An American Project’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 17th April – 3rd October 2021

 

Installation view of 'Dawoud Bey: An American Project' (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021)

Installation view of 'Dawoud Bey: An American Project' (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021)

 

Installation view of Dawoud Bey: An American Project (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021). From left to right: Fresh Coons and Wild Rabbits, Harlem, NY, 1975; A Boy in Front of the Loew’s 125th Street Movie Theater, Harlem, NY, 1976; A Woman and a Child in the Doorway, Harlem, NY, 1975; Clockwise, from top left: Four Children at Lenox Avenue, Harlem, NY, 1977; A Woman and Two Boys Passing, Harlem, NY, 1978; Deas McNeil, the Barber, Harlem, NY, 1976; A Woman Waiting in the Doorway, Harlem, NY, 1976; Two Girls at Lady D’s, Harlem, NY, c. 1976; A Young Boy from a Marching Band, Harlem, NY, 1977; Three Women at a Parade, Harlem, NY, 1978; A Man in a Bowler Hat, Harlem, NY, 1976. Photograph by Ron Amstutz

 

 

To fit it in with other exhibitions closing soon, a mid-week posting on this strong exhibition – Dawoud Bey: An American Project – this time at the Whitney Museum of American Art, with further media images, audio and installation photographs. The first posting with my comments about the exhibition was at the High Museum of Art.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the Whitney Museum of American Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

 

 

Dawoud Bey: An American Project

Since the mid-1970s, Dawoud Bey (b. 1953) has worked to expand upon what photography can and should be. Insisting that it is an ethical practice requiring collaboration with his subjects, he creates poignant meditations on visibility, power, and race. Bey chronicles communities and histories that have been largely underrepresented or even unseen, and his work lends renewed urgency to an enduring conversation about what it means to represent America with a camera.

Spanning from his earliest street portraits in Harlem to his most recent series imagining an escape from slavery on the Underground Railroad, Dawoud Bey: An American Project attests to the artist’s profound engagement with the Black subject. He is deeply committed to the craft of photography, drawing on the medium’s specific tools, processes, and materials to amplify the formal, aesthetic, and conceptual goals of each body of work. Bey views photography not only as a form of personal expression but as an act of political responsibility, emphasising the necessary and ongoing work of artists and institutions to break down obstacles to access, convene communities, and open dialogues.

Dawoud Bey: An American Project is co-organised by the Whitney Museum of American Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition is co-curated by Elisabeth Sherman, Assistant Curator at the Whitney, and Corey Keller, Curator of Photography at SFMOMA.

 

Room 800 Introduction

 

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Two Girls at Lady D's, Harlem, NY' c. 1976, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Two Girls at Lady D’s, Harlem, NY
c. 1976, printed 2019
From Harlem, U.S.A.
Gelatin silver print
11 × 14 in. (27.9 × 35.6cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
Image courtesy the artist and Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago
© Dawoud Bey

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Four Children at Lenox Avenue, Harlem, NY' 1977, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Four Children at Lenox Avenue, Harlem, NY
1977, printed 2019
From Harlem, U.S.A.
Gelatin silver print
11 × 14 in. (27.9 × 35.6cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

 

1

.
Harlem, U.S.A.

Bey began photographing in Harlem in 1975, at the age of twenty-two. Although he was raised in Queens, Bey was intimately connected to the neighbourhood: his parents had met there, and members of his extended family still made it their home. Drawn to the neighbourhood as both a symbol of and a wellspring for Black American culture, Bey wanted to portray its residents as complex individuals in images free of stereotype. These works all come from the series Harlem, U.S.A. (1975-79).

Bey used a 35mm camera with a slightly wide-angle lens, which required him to get close to his subjects while grounding them in the cityscape behind them. His set-up was nimble and discreet, and let the artist carefully control the framing. In 1979, the series was exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem, a museum dedicated to the arts of the African diaspora. Even at this very early moment in his career, it was critical to Bey that the works be shown in the community where they were made, allowing the people he was representing to have access to the work they inspired.

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'A Woman Waiting in the Doorway, Harlem, NY' 1977, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
A Woman Waiting in the Doorway, Harlem, NY
1977, printed 2019
From Harlem, U.S.A.
Gelatin silver print
14 × 11 in. overall (35.6 × 27.9cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Four Teenagers after Church Service, Syracuse, NY' 1985, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Four Teenagers after Church Service, Syracuse, NY
1985, printed 2019
Gelatin silver print
20 × 24 in. (50.8 × 61cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York
Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

Installation view of 'Dawoud Bey: An American Project' (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021)

 

Installation view of Dawoud Bey: An American Project (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021). Clockwise, from top left: Two Boys, Syracuse, NY, 1985; A Young Man with a Bus Transfer, Syracuse, NY, 1985; Two Boys at a Syracuse Handball Court, Syracuse, NY, 1985; Car in Backyard, Syracuse, NY, 1985; A Young Woman Waiting for the Bus, Syracuse, NY, 1985; A Young Man at the Bus Stop, Syracuse, NY, 1985; Four Teenagers After Church Service, Syracuse, NY, 1985; Combing Hair, Syracuse, NY, 1986; Clothes Drying on the Line, Syracuse, NY, 1985; A Woman and Three Children, Syracuse, NY, 1985. Photograph by Ron Amstutz

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Clothes Drying on the Line, Syracuse, NY' 1985, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Clothes Drying on the Line, Syracuse, NY
1985, printed 2019
Gelatin silver print
20 × 24 in. (50.8 × 61cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York
Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
Image courtesy the artist and Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago
© Dawoud Bey

 

 

2

.
Syracuse, NY

For much of the 1980s Bey continued to use the same slightly wide-angle lens and 35mm camera that he had used to make Harlem, U.S.A. Increasingly attuned to the formal and expressive geometries of the camera’s rectangular frame, he explored new ways to make use of shadow and light to help define a dynamic and improvisational composition. These aesthetic choices were deeply informed by the photographers he knew and studied, most importantly Roy DeCarava (1919-2009).

In 1985 Bey had a residency at Light Work in Syracuse, New York. Residencies and the projects that grew out of them would become a key aspect of his career, allowing him to focus on one place or organisation and incorporate that specificity into his work. In this series of photographs made in Syracuse, Bey portrays the city’s Black community. He noted: “It was a deliberate choice to foreground the Black subject in those photographs, giving them a place not only in my pictures … but on the wall[s] of galleries and museums when that work was exhibited.”

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'A Young Woman Waiting for the Bus, Syracuse, NY' 1985, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
A Young Woman Waiting for the Bus, Syracuse, NY
1985, printed 2019
Gelatin silver print
20 × 24 in. (50.8 × 61cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

 

Ask a Curator: Dawoud Bey: An American Project

Join assistant curator Elisabeth Sherman and curatorial assistant Ambika Trasi for an overview of the exhibition Dawoud Bey: An American Project. For more than four decades, Dawoud Bey has used the camera to create poignant meditations on visibility, power, and race, chronicling communities and histories that have largely been underrepresented or even unseen. The exhibition traces continuities across Bey’s major series, from his earliest street portraits in Harlem through his most recent project imagining an escape from slavery on the Underground Railroad.

 

Installation view of 'Dawoud Bey: An American Project' (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021)

 

Installation view of Dawoud Bey: An American Project (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021). From left to right: A Couple in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, 1990; A Woman at Fulton Street and Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 1988; A Man at Fulton Street and Cambridge Place, Brooklyn, NY, 1988; A Young Man Resting on an Exercise Bike, Amityville, NY, 1988; Max, Celia, Ramon, and Candida, New York, NY, 1992; Martina and Rhonda, Chicago, IL, 1993. Photograph by Ron Amstutz

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'A Man at Fulton Street and Cambridge Place, Brooklyn, NY' 1988, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
A Man at Fulton Street and Cambridge Place, Brooklyn, NY
1988, printed 2019
Pigmented inkjet print
30 × 40 in. (76.2 × 101.6cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

 

3

.
Type 55 Polaroid Street Portraits

After more than a decade of using a handheld 35mm camera, in 1988 Bey chose to slow down his process, moving to a larger and more conspicuous tripod-mounted 4 × 5-inch-format camera to make this series of street portraits. Like many other photographers working at that time, Bey was increasingly concerned with the ethics of traditional street photography, “which privileged the photographer at the expense of the subject,” and sought more equitable, reciprocal relationships with his sitters.

He began openly approaching strangers he wished to photograph in order to give “the Black subjects [a space] to assert themselves and their presence in the world, with their gaze meeting the viewer’s on equal footing.” He used Polaroid Type 55 film, which produced both instant pictures that he gave to the sitters and negatives that could be used later to make additional prints. Printing technologies have advanced in the decades since Bey made the photographs; the images here have been reprinted at nearly life-size, realising his original intention of creating a more heightened encounter between subject and viewer.

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'A Boy Eating a Foxy Pop, Brooklyn, NY' 1988, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
A Boy Eating a Foxy Pop, Brooklyn, NY
1988, printed 2019
Pigmented inkjet print
40 × 30 in. (101.6 × 76.2cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

Room 803 Young Man at a Tent Revival, Brooklyn, NY

 

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Young Man at a Tent Revival, Brooklyn, NY' 1989, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Young Man at a Tent Revival, Brooklyn, NY
1989, printed 2019
Pigmented inkjet print
40 × 30 in. (101.6 × 76.2cm)
Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

Installation view of 'Dawoud Bey: An American Project' (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021)

 

Installation view of Dawoud Bey: An American Project (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021). From left to right: (clockwise, from top left) Two Boys, Syracuse, NY, 1985; A Young Man with a Bus Transfer, Syracuse, NY, 1985; Two Boys at a Syracuse Handball Court, Syracuse, NY, 1985; Car in Backyard, Syracuse, NY, 1985; A Young Woman Waiting for the Bus, Syracuse, NY, 1985; A Young Man at the Bus Stop, Syracuse, NY, 1985; Four Teenagers After Church Service, Syracuse, NY, 1985; Combing Hair, Syracuse, NY, 1986; Clothes Drying on the Line, Syracuse, NY, 1985; A Woman and Three Children, Syracuse, NY, 1985; Kenosha II, 1996; Hilary and Taro, Chicago, IL, 1992; A Girl with School Medals, Brooklyn, NY, 1988; A Boy Eating a Foxy Pop, Brooklyn, NY, 1988; A Girl with a Knife Nosepin, Brooklyn, NY, 1990. Photograph by Ron Amstutz

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Hilary and Taro, Chicago, IL' 1992

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Hilary and Taro, Chicago, IL
1992
Two dye diffusion transfer prints (Polaroids)
30 1/8 × 44 in. overall (76.5 × 111.8cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art; purchase, with funds from the Photography Committee
© Dawoud Bey

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Max, Celia, Ramon and Candida, New York, NY' 1992

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Max, Celia, Ramon and Candida, New York, NY
1992
Three dye diffusion transfer prints (Polaroid)
30 × 67 7/8 in. overall (76.2 × 167.64cm)
Collection of Candida Alvarez
© Dawoud Bey

 

 

4

.
20 × 24 Polaroids

In 1991, Bey began using the 20 × 24-inch camera that the Polaroid Corporation made available to artists through its Artist Support Program. The camera was gargantuan and cumbersome – more than two hundred pounds and over six feet tall and five feet wide – and required two people to operate it, the photographer and a technician. Unlike the chance, and often brief, encounters with his subjects outside when using a 35mm camera, the Polaroid camera studio sessions offered Bey the opportunity to orchestrate all the conditions of the image and to have a more contemplative and sustained engagement with each sitter.

His earliest subjects were his artist friends; later he photographed teenagers that he met through a series of residencies at high schools and museums around the country. Over the course of Bey’s eight-year engagement with the 20 × 24-inch Polaroid camera, he increasingly explored the possibilities of multi-panel portraiture as a way of conveying a sense of the length of a portrait session as well as acknowledging the reality that no one image can fully portray an individual’s complexity.

 

Room 804 Lorna, New York, NY

 

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Lorna, New York, NY' 1992

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Lorna, New York, NY
1992
Two dye diffusion transfer prints (Polaroid)
30 × 44 in. overall (76.2 × 111.76cm)
Collection of Eileen Harris Norton
© Dawoud Bey

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Martina and Rhonda, Chicago, IL' 1993

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Martina and Rhonda, Chicago, IL
1993
Six dye diffusion transfer prints (Polaroid)
48 × 60 in. overall (121.9 × 152.4cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Eric Ceputis and David W. Williams
© Dawoud Bey

 

 

 

Reimagining History: Dawoud Bey in conversation with Jason Moran and Sarah M. Broom

On the occasion of the exhibition Dawoud Bey: An American Project, this conversation brings Dawoud Bey together with artist and musician Jason Moran and writer Sarah M. Broom to discuss their shared interest in specific histories and shared memories as the ground for their respective practices.

Inspired by Bey’s The Birmingham Project (2012) – a tribute to the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, AL, in 1963 – and Night Coming Tenderly, Black (2019), which imagines the flight of enslaved Black Americans along the final leg of the Underground Railroad, the three speakers reflect on how an artwork can become an act of commemoration and radical reinvention.

Jason Moran is an interdisciplinary artist, musician, and composer who draws on and celebrates the history of Black music and musicians such as James Reese Europe, Thelonious Monk, and Fats Waller, among others.

Sarah M. Broom is the author of The Yellow House, a memoir that weaves the story of her family in New Orleans across multiple generations.

 

Installation view of 'Dawoud Bey: An American Project' (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021)

 

Installation view of Dawoud Bey: An American Project (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021). From left to right, from Class PicturesKevin, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, 2005; Simone, Kenwood Academy, Chicago, IL, 2003; Danny, Fashion Industries High School, New York, NY, 2006. Photograph by Ron Amstutz

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Kevin, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA' 2005

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Kevin, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
2005
From Class Pictures
Pigmented inkjet print
40 × 32 in. (101.6 × 81.3cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

 

5

.
Class Pictures

Bey has long understood that the act of representation – as well as the corollary act of being seen – is both powerful and political. In Class Pictures (1992-2006) he once again turned his attention to teenagers, a population he felt was underrepresented and misjudged, seen either as “socially problematic or as engines for a certain consumerism.” The series originated during a residency at the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago, where Bey began working with local high-school students; during residencies at other museums and schools around the country, he expanded the project to capture a geographically and socioeconomically diverse slice of American adolescence.

Working in empty classrooms between class periods, Bey made careful and tender formal colour portraits of teens. He then invited them to write brief autobiographical statements to accompany their images, giving his subjects voice as well as visibility. Many of the residencies also included a curatorial project with the students using works in the museums’ collections. While the photographs and texts are what remain of these projects, it is the collaborative undertaking that Bey considers the work of Class Pictures.

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Jordan, School of the Arts, San Francisco, CA' 2006

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Jordan, School of the Arts, San Francisco, CA
2006
From Class Pictures
Pigmented inkjet print
40 × 32 in. (101.6 × 81.3cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Omar, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA' 2005, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Omar, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
2005, printed 2019
From Class Pictures
Pigmented inkjet print
40 × 32 in. (101.6 × 81.3cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

Room 805 Omar, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA

 

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Omar, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA' 2005, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Omar, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA (detail)
2005, printed 2019
From Class Pictures
Pigmented inkjet print
40 × 32 in. (101.6 × 81.3cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Braxton McKinney and Lavone Thomas, Birmingham, AL' 2012

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Braxton McKinney and Lavone Thomas, Birmingham, AL
2012
From The Birmingham Project
Pigmented inkjet prints
40 × 32 in. each (101.6 × 81.3cm each)
Rennie Collection, Vancouver
© Dawoud Bey

 

 

6

.
The Birmingham Project

On September 15, 1963, the Ku Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, murdering four Black girls – Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley – inside. Two Black boys – Johnny Robinson and Virgil Ware – were also killed in racially motivated violence later that day. Bey’s series The Birmingham Project (2012) commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of this horrific event. The artist made formal portraits of Birmingham residents, pairing children the same ages as the victims with adults fifty years older – the ages the victims would have been had they lived.

Bey said of the experience making these works: “To think of someone striking such a young life down with impunity is a renewed horror each time a young person sits in front of my camera. To see the older men and women, having lived rich full lives, reminds me constantly of the tragically abbreviated lives of those six young people.” Bey made the portraits in two locations: Bethel Baptist Church, an early headquarters for the civil rights movement in Birmingham, and the Birmingham Museum of Art, which in 1963 was a segregated space that admitted Black visitors only one day a week. The resulting works both honour the tragic loss of the six children and make plain the continued impact of violence, trauma, and racism.

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Betty Selvage and Faith Speights, Birmingham, AL' 2012

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Betty Selvage and Faith Speights, Birmingham, AL
2012
From The Birmingham Project
Pigmented inkjet prints
40 × 32 in. each (101.6 × 81.3cm each)
Rennie Collection, Vancouver
© Dawoud Bey

 

Installation view of 'Dawoud Bey: An American Project' (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021)

 

Installation view of Dawoud Bey: An American Project (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021). From left to right, from The Birmingham Project: Braxton McKinney and Lavon Thomas, 2012; Betty Selvage and Faith Speights, 2012; Jean Shamburger and Kyrian McDaniel, 2012. Photograph by Ron Amstutz

 

Installation view of 'Dawoud Bey: An American Project' (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021)

 

Installation view of Dawoud Bey: An American Project (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17-October 3, 2021). Mathis Menefee and Cassandra Griffin, from The Birmingham Project, 2012. Photograph by Ron Amstutz

 

Room 103 Mathis Menefee and Cassandra Griffin

 

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Mathis Menefee and Cassandra Griffin, Birmingham, AL' 2012

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Mathis Menefee and Cassandra Griffin, Birmingham, AL
2012
From The Birmingham Project
Pigmented inkjet prints
40 × 64 in. each (101.6 × 162.56cm each)
Rennie Collection, Vancouver
© Dawoud Bey

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'West 124th Street and Lenox Avenue, NY' 2016, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
West 124th Street and Lenox Avenue, NY
2016, printed 2019
From Harlem Redux
Pigmented inkjet print
40 3/8 × 48 1/4 × 2 in. overall (102.6 × 122.6 × 5.1cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

 

7

.
Harlem Redux

In 2014, Bey began the series of which this work is a part, Harlem Redux. It marked a return to the neighbourhood, where four decades earlier he had made his first critically acclaimed body of work, Harlem, U.S.A. If the earlier series is a love letter to the historic epicentre of Black community and culture in the United States, Harlem Redux (2014-17) is an incisive and elegiac look at its recent, rapid transformation and gentrification. Bey used a medium-format camera and made the pictures large scale and in colour, techniques common to contemporary photography practices, in order to signal that these changes are taking place now, and not in a historical moment.

This series commemorates sites of cultural significance in Harlem – such as the legendary jazz club the Lenox Lounge, which was demolished not long after Bey’s photograph was made – and makes evident the impacts of otherwise invisible socioeconomic forces. In his words, Harlem is now a neighbourhood “increasingly defined by a sense of ‘erase and replace’, wherein pieces of social and cultural history, along with memory itself, are routinely discarded.”

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Young Man, West 127th Street, Harlem, NY' 2015, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Young Man, West 127th Street, Harlem, NY
2015, printed 2019
From Harlem Redux
Pigmented inkjet print
40 3/8 × 48 1/4 × 2 in. overall (102.6 × 122.6 × 5.1cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

Room 801 Girls, Ornaments, and Vacant Lot

 

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Girls, Ornaments, and Vacant Lot, NY' 2016, printed 2019

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Girls, Ornaments, and Vacant Lot, NY
2016, printed 2019
From Harlem Redux
Pigmented inkjet print
40 3/8 × 48 1/4 × 2 in. (102.6 × 122.6 × 5.1cm)
Collection of the artist; courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York; Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
© Dawoud Bey

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Untitled #21 (Farmhouse and Picket Fence II)' 2017

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Untitled #21 (Farmhouse and Picket Fence II)
2017
from Night Coming Tenderly, Black
Gelatin silver print
44 × 54 5/8 in. (111.8 × 138.7cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Photography Committee, in honour of Sondra Gilman
© Dawoud Bey

 

 

8

.
Night Coming Tenderly, Black

Bey’s most recent work imagines the flight of enslaved Black Americans along the leg of the Underground Railroad that operated in Ohio – the last fifty or so miles before they reached the vast expanse of Lake Erie, on the other side of which lay Canada, and freedom. As a covert network of safe houses and churches, the sites of the Underground Railroad were by necessity secret. Bey’s photographs suggest the experience of the journey and the landscapes and buildings that may have provided protection along the way. Night Coming Tenderly, Black (2017) marks the first time in his career that Bey turned completely to landscape photography, removing the presence of the figure entirely.

Nonetheless, the images imply the perspective of the individuals whose invisibility was requisite for their safety. Their large scale and rich black tones invite the viewer to engage their own body in the act of looking, taking time for their eyes to adjust and moving around to register the entirety of each image. The series pays homage to two Black American artists, the photographer Roy DeCarava and the poet Langston Hughes. DeCarava’s influence can be seen in the lush and protective darkness of the prints, while the project’s title is drawn from the final couplet of Hughes’s “Dream Variations”: “Night coming tenderly / Black like me.”

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Untitled #24 (At Lake Erie)' 2017

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Untitled #24 (At Lake Erie)
2017
from Night Coming Tenderly, Black
Gelatin silver print
48 × 55 in. (121.9 × 139.7cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Photography Committee, in honour of Sondra Gilman
© Dawoud Bey

 

Room 806 Untitled #25 (Lake Erie and Sky)

 

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953) 'Untitled #25 (Lake Erie and Sky)' 2017

 

Dawoud Bey (American, b. 1953)
Untitled #25 (Lake Erie and Sky)
2017
From Night Coming Tenderly, Black
Gelatin silver print
44 × 55 in. (111.8 × 139.7cm)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Accessions Committee Fund purchase
© Dawoud Bey

 

 

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23
Sep
16

Exhibition: ‘Danny Lyon: Message to the Future’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 17th June – 25th September 2016

Curator: Julian Cox

 

 

Danny Lyon. 'Self-portrait, Chicago' 1965/1995

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Self-portrait, Chicago
1965/1995
Gelatin silver print montage
Image: 31.2 x 27.8cm (12 1/4 x 10 15/16 in.); mount: 50.8 x 40.6cm (20 x 16 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

 

This man is a living legend. What a strong body of socially conscious work he has produced over a long period of time. Each series proposes further insight into the human condition – and adds ‘value’ to series that have gone before. It is a though the artist possesses the intuition for a good story and the imagination to photograph it to best advantage, building the story over multiple encounters and contexts to form a thematic whole.

In a press release for a currently showing parallel exhibition titled Journey at Edwynn Houk Gallery the text states, “Continuing in the tradition of Walker Evans and Robert Frank, Lyon forged a new style of realistic photography, described as “New Journalism,” where the photographer immerses himself in his subject’s world.” This reference to immersion is reinforced by the second quotation below, where “the power of Lyon’s work has often derived from his willingness of immerse himself entirely in the cultures and communities he documents.”

While the observation is correct that the artist immerses himself in the cultures and communities he documents, this is different to the tradition of Robert Frank and to a lesser extent, Walker Evans. Frank was a Swiss man who imaged his impressions of America on a road trip across the country. His “photographs were notable for their distanced view of both high and low strata of American society” which pictured the culture as both alienating and strange, “skeptical of contemporary values and evocative of ubiquitous loneliness”. This is why The Americans had so much power and caused so much consternation when it was first released in 1959 in America, for it held up a mirror to an insular society, one not used to looking at itself especially from the position of an “outsider” – where the tone of the book was perceived as derogatory to national ideals – and it didn’t like what it saw. The American Walker Evans was also an outsider photographing outsiders, journeying through disparate towns and communities documenting his impressions how I can I say, subjectively with an objective focus, at one and the same time. He never immersed himself in the culture but was an active observer and documenter, never an insider.

Lyon was one of the first “embedded” social documentary photographers of the American street photography movement of the 1960s who had the free will and the social conscience to tell it like it is. His self-proclaimed “advocacy journalism” is much more than just advocacy / journalism. It is a vitality of being, of spirit, an inquiry of the mind that allows the artist to get close, both physically and emotionally, to the problems of others through becoming one with them – and then to picture that so that others can see their story, so that he can “change history and preserve humanity.” But, we must acknowledge, that humanity is mainly (good looking) males: outlaw motorcycle clubs, mainly male prisons, mainly male civil rights, tattoo shops, and male Uptown, Chicago. Women are seemingly reduced to bit-players at best, singular portraits or standing in the background at funerals. This is a man’s world and you better not forget it…

Having said that, can you imagine living the life, spending four years as a member of the Chicago Outlaw Motorcycle Club. How exhilarating, how enmeshed with the culture you would become – the people, the travel, the ups and downs, the life, the danger – and then when you get photographs like Funny Sonny Packing with Zipco, Milwaukee (1966, below) with the manic look in Funny Sonny’s eyes, how your heart would sing. If I had to nominate one image that is for me the epitome of America in the 1960s it would be this: Crossing the Ohio River, Louisville (1966, below): all Easy Rider (an 1969 American road movie) encapsulated in one image. The structure and modernism / of the two bridges frames / the speeding / wicked bike / helmet lodged over the headlight; the man / wearing a skull and crossbones emblazoned jacket / helmet-less / head turned / behind / hair flying in the wind / not looking where / he is going / as though his destiny: unknown.

Danny Lyon IS one of the great artists working in photography today. He is a rebel with his own cause. Through his vital and engaging images his message to the future is this: everyone has their own story, their own trials and tribulations, each deserving of empathy, compassion, and non-judgemental acceptance. Prejudice has no voice here, a lesson never more pertinent than for America today as it decides who to elect – a woman who has fought every inch of the way or a narcissistic megalomaniac who preaches hate to minorities.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Whitney Museum of American Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“Closeness, both physical and emotional, is a recurring theme throughout the 175 works in “Message to the Future,” Lyon’s Whitney Museum retrospective, a quietly brilliant affair curated with panache by Julian Cox. (Later this year, the show will travel to the Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco, which organized it; Elisabeth Sussman oversaw the Whitney installation.) We see here a photographer who was witness to a changing America and, occasionally, other places in the world. Since the early ’60s, Lyon has been infiltrating outsider groups – talking to and photographing bikers, Texas prison inmates, and hippies, and learning from them by becoming close with them. It’s as if Lyon has no sense of personal space. That, as this revelatory show proves, is his greatest attribute…

Lyon is a deft stylist who cares deeply about his subjects, to the point of exchanging letters with them for years after taking their pictures. What results is something more intimate, more political, and, in some ways, better than traditional photojournalism – a fuller portrait of America since the ’60s.”

.
Alex Greenberger on the ArtNews website

 

“Self-taught, and driven by his twin passions for social change and the medium of photography, the power of Lyon’s work has often derived from his willingness of immerse himself entirely in the cultures and communities he documents. This was evident early on in his series ‘Bikeriders’ (1968; reissued in 2003 by Chronicle Books), which evolved from four years spent as a member of the Chicago Outlaw Motorcycle Club. And ‘Conversations with the Dead’ derived from his close study of the Texas prison system; it also revealed Lyon’s novel and distinctive approach to the photobook, which often sees him splicing images with texts drawn from various sources, including interviews, letters, and even fiction.”

.
Text from the Edwynn Houk Gallery website [Online] Cited 21/09/2016. No longer available online

 

 

Danny Lyon. 'Self-Portrait, New Orleans 1964' 1964

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Self-Portrait, New Orleans, 1964
1964
Gelatin silver print
18.2 x 12.2cm (7 3/16 x 4 13/16 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

 

In his 1981 book, “Danny Lyon: Pictures From the New World,” he wrote of starting out in the early ’60s. “Photography then seemed new and exciting, and all America, which I regarded with mystery and reverence, lay before me.”

That sense of newness and excitement fills the show. What we’re discovering now, Lyon was discovering then – not just seeing or observing, but discovering, with the sense of revelation that brings. Mystery and reverence are here, too, but complicatedly. Framing them – debating with them? – are the clarity of precision the camera affords and a skepticism born of a forthrightly ’60s sensibility. Several photographs of the Occupy movement attest to how vigorous that sensibility remains…

He was working as a documentarian but not a photojournalist. That’s an important distinction. These images are implicitly polemical – inevitably polemical, too. Rarely in our nation’s history has the distinction between what’s right and what’s wrong been as clear cut. Yet then as now, people matter more to Lyon than any ideological stance. Outsiders attract Lyon and populate the show: civil rights demonstrators, transgender people (in Galveston, Texas, of all places), lower Manhattan demolition crews, inmates, undocumented workers, Indians, Appalachian whites transplanted to Chicago, motorcycle gangs…

Enclosure and entrapment are not for Lyon – nor, for that matter, is the absence of people (a very rare condition in his work). A larger restlessness in Lyon’s career reflects the energy so often evident within the frame – within the frame being another form of enclosure and entrapment. The South, Chicago, lower Manhattan, Texas, New Mexico, China, Haiti, Latin America share space in the show. Even so, sense of place doesn’t signify as much for Lyon as a sense of a place’s inhabitants. More likely he’d say that the two are indistinguishable. Looking at his pictures, you can see why he’d think so.”

Mark Feeney. “Outsiders fill compelling Danny Lyon photography show,” on the Boston Globe website 8th July 2016 [Online] Cited 10/09/2016

 

Danny Lyon. 'Arrest of Eddie Brown, Albany, Georgia' 1962

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Arrest of Eddie Brown, Albany, Georgia
1962
Gelatin silver print
Image: 22 x 31.7cm (8 5/8 x 12 1/2 in.); sheet: 27.9 x 35.6cm (11 x 14 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

 

The most comprehensive retrospective of the work of American photographer, filmmaker, and writer Danny Lyon in twenty-five years debuts at the Whitney on June 17, 2016. The first major photography exhibition to be presented in the Museum’s downtown home, Danny Lyon: Message to the Future is organised by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, where it will make its West Coast debut at the de Young Museum on November 5, 2016. The exhibition assembles approximately 175 photographs and is the first to assess the artist’s achievements as a filmmaker. The presentation also includes a rare look at works from Lyon’s archives, including vintage prints, unseen 16mm film footage made inside Texas prisons, and his personal photo albums. A leading figure in the American street photography movement of the 1960s, Lyon has distinguished himself by the personal intimacy he establishes with his subjects and the inventiveness of his practice.

Photographer, filmmaker, and writer Danny Lyon (b. 1942) has over the past five decades presented a charged alternative to the sanitised vision of American life presented in the mass media. Throughout, he has rejected the standard detached humanism of the traditional documentary approach in favour of a more immersive, complicated involvement with his subjects. “You put a camera in my hand,” he has explained, “I want to get close to people. Not just physically close, emotionally close, all of it.” In the process he has made several iconic bodies of work, which have not only pictured recent history but helped to shape it.

Lyon committed intensively to photography from the beginning. In 1962, while still a student at the University of Chicago, he hitchhiked to the segregated South to make a photographic record of the civil rights movement. He went on to photograph biker subcultures, explore the lives of the incarcerated, and document the architectural transformation of Lower Manhattan. He has travelled to Latin America and China, and has lived for years in New Mexico; the work he has made throughout these journeys demonstrates his respect for the people he photographs on the social and cultural margins.

Message to the Future, shaped in collaboration with the artist, incorporates seldom-exhibited materials from Lyon’s archive, including rare vintage prints, previously unseen 16mm film footage made inside the Texas prisons, his personal photo albums, and related documents and ephemera. In his roles as a photographer, filmmaker, and writer, Lyon has reinvented the expectations for how the still photographic image can be woven together with journalism, books, films, and collage to present a diverse record of social customs and human behaviour. His work, which he continues to make today, reveals a restless idealist, digging deep into his own life and those of his subjects to uncover the political in the personal and the personal in the political.

Text from the Whitney Museum of American Art

 

Civil rights

In the summer of 1962, Lyon hitchhiked to Cairo, Illinois, to witness demonstrations and a speech by John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), one of the most important organisations driving the civil rights movement of the early 1960s. Inspired to see the making of history firsthand, Lyon then headed to the South to participate in and photograph the civil rights movement. There, SNCC executive director James Forman recruited Lyon to be the organisation’s first official photographer, based out of its Atlanta headquarters. Traveling throughout the South with SNCC, Lyon documented sit-ins, marches, funerals, and violent clashes with the police, often developing his negatives quickly in makeshift darkrooms.

Lyon’s photographs were used in political posters, brochures, and leaflets produced by SNCC to raise money and recruit workers to the movement. Julian Bond, the communications director of SNCC, wrote of Lyon’s pictures, “They put faces on the movement, put courage in the fearful, shone light on darkness, and helped make the movement move.”

 

Danny Lyon. 'Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Sit-In, Atlanta' 1963

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Sit-In, Atlanta
1963
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16.1 x 24cm (6 3/8 x 9 1/2 in.); sheet: 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'The Leesburg Stockade, Leesburg, Georgia' 1963

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
The Leesburg Stockade, Leesburg, Georgia
1963
Gelatin silver print
Image: 17.5 x 26cm (6 7/8 x 10 3/16 in.); sheet: 27.9 x 35.6cm (11 x 14 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Abernathy, Shuttlesworth (SCLC), King and Wilkinson (NAACP)' 1963

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Abernathy, Shuttlesworth (SCLC), King and Wilkinson (NAACP)
1963
Gelatin silver print

 

Danny Lyon. 'Voting Rights Demonstration, Organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Selma, Alabama' October 7, 1963

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Voting Rights Demonstration, Organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Selma, Alabama
October 7, 1963
Gelatin silver print
Image: 18.3 x 26.8cm (7 3/16 x 10 9/16 in.); sheet: 27.8 x 35.4cm (10 15/16 x 13 15/16 in.)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Photography Committee

 

Danny Lyon. 'Sheriff Jim Clark Arresting Demonstrators, Selma, Alabama' October 7, 1963

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Sheriff Jim Clark Arresting Demonstrators, Selma, Alabama
October 7, 1963
Gelatin silver print
Image: 18.4 x 27cm (7 1/4 x 10 5/8 in.); sheet: 27.8 x 35.4cm (10 15/16 x 13 15/16 in.)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchased with funds from the Photography Committee

 

Danny Lyon. 'Stokely Carmichael, Confrontation with National Guard, Cambridge, Maryland' 1964

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Stokely Carmichael, Confrontation with National Guard, Cambridge, Maryland
1964
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16.5 x 22.2cm (6 1/2 x 8 3/4 in.); sheet: 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10 in.)
Collection of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; purchase with funds from Joan N. Whitcomb

 

Danny Lyon. 'Woman Holds Off a Mob, Atlanta' 1963

 

Danny Lyon
Woman Holds Off a Mob, Atlanta
1963
Gelatin silver print

 

Danny Lyon. 'Bob Dylan behind the SNCC office, Greenwood, Mississippi' 1963

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Bob Dylan behind the SNCC office, Greenwood, Mississippi
1963
Gelatin silver print

 

Danny Lyon. 'Arrest of Taylor Washington, Atlanta' 1963

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Arrest of Taylor Washington, Atlanta
1963
Gelatin silver print
24 x 16cm (9 7/16 x 6 1/4 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'The March on Washington' August 28, 1963

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
The March on Washington
August 28, 1963
Gelatin silver print
29.8 x 20.8cm (11 3/4 x 8 3/16 in.)
Museum of Modern Art, New York; Gift of Anne Ehrenkranz

 

Galveston

Danny Lyon. 'Pumpkin and Roberta, Galveston, Texas' 1967

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Pumpkin and Roberta, Galveston, Texas
1967
Gelatin silver print
Image: 23.8 x 16.1cm (6 3/8 x 9 3/8 in.); sheet: 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

 

Prisons

In 1967, Lyon applied to the Texas Department of Corrections for access to the state prisons. Dr. George Beto, then director of the prisons, granted Lyon the right to move freely among the various prison units, which he photographed and filmed extensively over a fourteen-month period. The result is a searing record of the Texas penal system and, symbolically, of incarceration everywhere.

Lyon’s aim was to “make a picture of imprisonment as distressing as I knew it to be in reality.” This meant riding out to the fields to follow prisoners toiling in the sun, as well as visiting the Wynne Treatment Centre, which housed primarily convicts with mental disabilities. He befriended many of the prisoners, listening to their stories and finding the humanity in their experiences, and still maintains contact with some of them.

 

Danny Lyon. 'Weight Lifters, Ramsey Unit, Texas' 1968

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Weight Lifters, Ramsey Unit, Texas
1968
Gelatin silver print
Image: 22.4 x 33.2cm (8 7/8 x 13 1/16 in.); sheet: 27.7 x 35.6cm (11 x 14 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'New Arrivals from Corpus Christi, The Walls, Texas' 1968

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
New Arrivals from Corpus Christi, The Walls, Texas
1968
Gelatin silver print
Image: 21.4 x 32cm (8 7/16 x 12 5/8 in.); sheet: 27.9 x 35.6cm (11 x 14 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Contents of Arriving Prisoner’s Wallet, Diagnostic Unit, The Walls, Huntsville, Texas' 1968

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Contents of Arriving Prisoner’s Wallet, Diagnostic Unit, The Walls, Huntsville, Texas
1968
Gelatin silver print
Image: 24.3 x 17.5cm (9 9/16 x 6 3/4 in.); sheet: 25.4 x 20.3cm (10 x 8 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Six-Wing Cell Block, Ramsey Unit, Texas' 1968

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Six-Wing Cell Block, Ramsey Unit, Texas
1968
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16 x 24cm (6 5/16 x 9 7/16 in.); sheet: 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Charlie Lowe, Ellis Unit, Texas' 1968

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Charlie Lowe, Ellis Unit, Texas
1968
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16.2 x 23.8cm (6 3/8 x 9 3/8 in.); sheet: 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Shakedown, Ellis Unit, Texas' 1968

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Shakedown, Ellis Unit, Texas
1968
Gelatin silver print
21.6 x 31.3cm (8 1/2 x 12 1/4 in.)
Museum of Modern Art, New York; purchase

 

Danny Lyon. 'Shakedown, Ramsey Unit, Texas' 1968

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Shakedown, Ramsey Unit, Texas
1968
Gelatin silver print
Image: 17 x 24.2cm (6 5/8 x 9 9/16 in.); sheet: 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Convict With a Bag of Cotton, Texas' 1968

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Convict With a Bag of Cotton, Texas
1968
Gelatin silver print

 

Danny Lyon. 'Two Inmates, Goree Unit, Texas' 1968

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Two Inmates, Goree Unit, Texas
1968
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16.8 x 24cm (6 5/8 x 9 91/6 in.); sheet: 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

 

The destruction of Lower Manhattan

In late 1966 and into the summer of 1967, starting from his loft at the corner of Beekman and William Streets near City Hall Park, Lyon documented the demolition of some sixty acres of predominantly nineteenth-century buildings below Canal Street in lower Manhattan. With funding from the New York State Council on the Arts, he photographed most of the buildings that would be torn down to make way for the World Trade Center. Lyon recalled later: “I wanted to inhabit [the buildings] with feelings and give them and their demise a meaning.”

Moving from the outside of the buildings to their deserted interiors, Lyon also took pictures of the workers involved in the demolition. The photographs, together with Lyon’s journal entries, became a book, published by Macmillan in 1969 and dedicated to his close friend, sculptor Mark di Suvero. The volume’s significance lies in part in its depiction of a city – and, more broadly, a culture – cannibalising its own architectural history for the sake of development.

 

Danny Lyon. 'View South from 100 Gold Street, New York' 1967

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
View South from 100 Gold Street, New York
1967
Gelatin silver print
18.3 x 18.2cm (7 1/4 x 7 3/16 in.)
Collection of Melissa Schiff Soros and Robert Soros

 

Danny Lyon. 'Self-Portrait in Susquehanna Hotel, Third-Floor Room with Grass, New York' 1967

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Self-Portrait in Susquehanna Hotel, Third-Floor Room with Grass, New York
1967
Gelatin silver print
18.2 x 18.2cm (7 3/16 x 7 3/16 in.)
Collection of Melissa Schiff Soros and Robert Soros

 

Danny Lyon. 'Ruins of 100 Gold Street, New York' 1967

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Ruins of 100 Gold Street, New York
1967
Gelatin silver print
23.6 x 23.4cm (9 5/16 x 10 7/16 in.)
Collection of Melissa Schiff Soros and Robert Soros

 

 

The Bikeriders

Lyon purchased his first motorcycle – a 1953 Triumph TR6 – in 1962, after spending weekends watching college friend and motorcycle racer Frank Jenner compete at informal dirt track races across the Midwest. When he returned to Chicago in 1965 after leaving SNCC, Lyon joined the hard-riding, hard-drinking Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club and began making photographs with a goal to “record and glorify the life of the American bike rider.” With clubs like the Hells Angels making headlines for their criminal and vigilante activities at the time, bike riders were simultaneously feared for their anarchism and romanticised for their independence.

Riding with the Outlaws, Lyon attempted to capture their way of life from the inside out. Their unapologetic pursuit of freedom and libertine pleasures compelled him to get close to them as people. Lyon’s images are intimate and familiar, whether taken during rides or at clubhouse meetings. He also used a tape recorder to document the bikers speaking for themselves, unobtrusively capturing their collective voice. The resulting photographs were gathered into the now classic book of the same name, published in 1968, combining his pictures with an edited transcription of the interviews.

 

Danny Lyon. 'Racer, Schererville, Indiana' 1965

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Racer, Schererville, Indiana
1965
Gelatin silver print
13.9 x 20.3cm (5 1/2 x 8 in.)
Silverman Museum Collection

 

Danny Lyon. 'Crossing the Ohio River, Louisville' 1966

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Crossing the Ohio River, Louisville
1966
Gelatin silver print
20.3 x 31.8cm (8 x 12 1/2 in.)
Silverman Museum Collection

 

Danny Lyon. 'Route 12, Wisconsin' 1963

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Route 12, Wisconsin
1963
Gelatin silver print
15.6 x 23.8cm (6 1/8 x 9 1/8 in.)
Silverman Museum Collection

 

Danny Lyon. 'Sparky and Cowboy, Schererville, Indiana' 1965

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Sparky and Cowboy, Schererville, Indiana
1965
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16.1 x 23.9cm (6 3/8 x 9 3/8 in.); sheet: 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Untitled (Close Up of Cal on the Road)' 1966

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Untitled (Close Up of Cal on the Road)
1966
Gelatin silver print

 

Danny Lyon. 'Renegade's funeral, Detroit' 1966

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Renegade’s funeral, Detroit
1966
Gelatin silver print

 

Danny Lyon Funny Sonny. 'Packing with Zipco, Milwaukee' 1966

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Funny Sonny Packing with Zipco, Milwaukee
1966
Gelatin silver print

 

Danny Lyon. 'Kathy, Chicago' 1965 (printed 1966)

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Kathy, Chicago
1965 (printed 1966)
Gelatin silver print, printed 1966
25.8 x 25.5cm (10 1/8 x 10 1/16 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Cal on the Springfield Run, Illinois' 1966 (printed 2003)

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Cal on the Springfield Run, Illinois
1966 (printed 2003)
Cibachrome print
Image: 22.8 x 32.5cm (9 x 13 1/4 in.); sheet: 27.9 x 35.6cm (11 x 14 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Cowboy, Rogue's Picnic, Chicago' 1966

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Cowboy, Rogue’s Picnic, Chicago
1966
Gelatin silver print
Image: 23.5 x 15.9cm (9 1/4 x 6 1/4 in.); mount: 50.8 x 40.6cm (20 x 16 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Benny, Grand and Division, Chicago' 1965

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Benny, Grand and Division, Chicago
1965
Gelatin silver print
Image 24.5 x 17.2cm (9 5/8 x 6 3/4 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

 

New Mexico and the West

Lyon headed west from New York in 1969. Tired of the hectic pace of the big city and in search of new surroundings, he settled in Sandoval County, New Mexico. He developed a great admiration for the region’s close knit communities of Native Americans and Chicanos. Lyon’s photographs and, increasingly, his films reflected his growing understanding of the cross-cultural flow between these disparate groups and how they interacted with the geography of the Southwest.

With the help of his good friend, a migrant labourer named Eduardo Rivera Marquez, Lyon built a traditional adobe home for his family in Bernalillo, in the Rio Grande Valley just north of Albuquerque. As Lyon’s family grew, his children also became a frequent subject, often depicted against the dramatic Western landscape. Though Lyon moved back to New York in 1980, New Mexico would remain a centre of gravity for the artist, who returned every summer with his family to photograph and make films.

 

Danny Lyon. 'Eddie, New Mexico' 1972

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Eddie, New Mexico
1972
Gelatin silver print
Image 23 x 34.5 cm (9 x 13 5/8 in.); sheet 27.9 x 35.6 cm (11 x 14 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Navajo Boy, Gallup, New Mexico' 1971

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Navajo Boy, Gallup, New Mexico
1971
Gelatin silver print
Image: 23.3 x 33.8cm (9 1/8 x 13 5/16 in.); sheet: 27.9 x 35.6cm (11 x 14 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Maricopa County, Arizona' 1977

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Maricopa County, Arizona
1977
Gelatin silver print
Image: 22.8 x 33.5cm (9 x 13 3/16 in.); sheet: 27.9 x 35.6cm (11 x 14 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Stephanie, Sandoval County, New Mexico' 1969/1975

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Stephanie, Sandoval County, New Mexico
1969/1975
Gelatin silver print (decorated)
Image: 16.7 x 25cm (6 9/16 x 9 3/4 in.); sheet: 27.9 x 35.6cm (11 x 14 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'El Paso, Texas' 1975 (printed 2015)

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
El Paso, Texas
1975 (printed 2015)
Pigmented inkjet print
Image 27.9 x 40.6cm (11 x 16 in.); sheet 33 x 45.7cm (13 x 18 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'El Paso, Texas' 1975

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
El Paso, Texas
1975

 

 

Films and montages

Lyon started making 16mm films in earnest in the 1970s, focusing on marginalised communities and injustice as he had in his photographs. His subjects included Colombian street kids in Los Niños Abandonados (1975) and undocumented workers from Mexico in El Mojado (1974) and El Otro Lado (1978). Lyon has explained that after leaving the Texas prisons he struggled to move forward, feeling that there were “no more worlds to conquer” in creating photography books. Filmmaking became the means by which he could continue to make sense of the beauty and inequality he saw in the world around him.

Lyon did not give up photography completely, however. He turned to assembling family albums and creating collaged works that he describes as montages, referencing the filmmaking practice of juxtaposing disparate images to form a continuous whole. Lyon’s montages combine multiple images and materials sourced from his archives. Initially meant as vehicles for reflection and, in the case of the albums, as family heirlooms, these deeply personal works bridge past generations of his family with his present.

 

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Los Niños Abandonados
1975

 

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
El Mojado
1974
New Mexico, colour, 14 minutes [The Wetback]
English and Spanish with subtitles
A portrait of a hard-working undocumented labourer from Mexico produced by J.J. Meeker

 

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
El Otro Lado
1978
Mexico and Arizona, colour, 60 minutes [The Other Side]
Spanish with English subtitles
An honest film infused with poignant beauty, without political rhetoric

 

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Dear Mark
1981, New York and France, colour and b&w, 15 minutes
A comedy in which the artist’s voice has been replaced by Gene Autry’s
Lyon’s homage to his friend, sculptor Mark di Suvero, from footage shot in 1965 and 1975.

 

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Soc Sci 127
1969
Houston, color and b&w, 21 minutes
A comedy – Danny Lyon’s first film with the late great Bill Sanders and his “painless” tattoo shop.

 

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Willie
1985
New Mexico, color, b&w, 82 minutes
Willie is a realistic film made in Bernalillo, home of Willie Jaramillo and filmmakers Danny and Nancy Weiss Lyon
Defiantly individual and implacable in the face of authority, Willie is repeatedly thrown into jail for relatively minor offences. The filmmakers gain access to jail cells, day rooms, lunatic wards, and the worst cellblock in the penitentiary where Willie is locked up next to his childhood friend and convicted murderer, Michael Guzman.

 

Knoxville

Danny Lyon. 'Knoxville' 1967

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Knoxville
1967
Gelatin silver print

 

Danny Lyon. 'Knoxville, Tennessee' 1967

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Knoxville, Tennessee
1967
Gelatin silver print

 

Danny Lyon. 'Leslie, Downtown Knoxville' 1967

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Leslie, Downtown Knoxville
1967
Gelatin silver print
Image: 28.7 x 19.1cm (11 1/4 x 7 1/2 in.); mount: 56.2 x 45.7cm (22 1/8 x 18 in.)
Art Institute of Chicago; gift of Mr. Danny Lyon

 

Tattoo

Danny Lyon. 'Bill Sanders, Tattoo Artist, Houston, Texas' 1968

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Bill Sanders, Tattoo Artist, Houston, Texas
1968
Gelatin silver print
Image: 20.7 x 20.7cm (8 3/16 x 8 3/16 in.); sheet: 35.6 x 27.9cm (14 x 11 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Chicago

Danny Lyon. 'Two youths in Uptown, Chicago, Illinois, a neighborhood of poor white southerners' 1974

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Two youths in Uptown, Chicago, Illinois, a neighborhood of poor white southerners
1974

 

Danny Lyon. 'Children at an apartment entrance' 1965

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Children at an apartment entrance
1965
From series Uptown, Chicago
Gelatin silver print

 

Danny Lyon. 'Kathy, Uptown, Chicago' 1965

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Kathy, Uptown, Chicago
1965
Gelatin silver print
Image: 24.1 x 23.9cm (9 1/2 x 9 3/8 in.); sheet: 35.6 x 27.9cm (14 x 11 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Uptown, Chicago' 1965

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Uptown, Chicago
1965
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16.4 x 16.4cm (6 1/2 x 6 1/2 in.); mount: 50.8 x 40.6cm (20 x 16 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

New York

Danny Lyon. 'Subway, New York' 1966 (printed 2015)

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Subway, New York
1966 (printed 2015)
Pigmented inkjet print
Image: 23.7 x 24.1cm (9 5/16 x 9 1/2 in.); sheet: 28.8 x 29.2cm (11 5/16 x 11 1/2 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Self-Portrait in Mary Frank’s Bathroom, New York' 1969

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Self-Portrait in Mary Frank’s Bathroom, New York
1969
Gelatin silver print
Image: 15.6 x 23.5cm (6 1/8 x 9 1/4 in.); sheet: 20.3 x 25.2cm (8 x 9 15/16 in.)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Joanna Leonhardt Casullo, Niko Elmaleh, Lauren DePalo, Julia Macklowe, and Fern Kaye Tessler

 

Danny Lyon. 'John Lennon and Danny Seymour, The Bowery, New York' 1969 (printed c. 2005)

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
John Lennon and Danny Seymour, The Bowery, New York
1969 (printed c. 2005)
Gelatin silver print, printed later
Image: 22.3 x 33.3cm (8 13/16 x 13 1/8 in.); sheet: 27.6 x 35.4cm (11 x 14 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Mark di Suvero and Danny Lyon, Hyde Park, Chicago' 1965

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Mark di Suvero and Danny Lyon, Hyde Park, Chicago
1965
Gelatin silver print
Image: 23.9 x 16.2cm (9 3/8 x 6 3/8 in.); sheet: 25.4 x 20.3cm (10 x 8 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Colombia

Danny Lyon. 'Mary, Santa Marta, Colombia' 1972

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Mary, Santa Marta, Colombia
1972
Gelatin silver print
Image: 17.1 x 25.3cm (6 3/4 x 10 in.); sheet: 27.9 x 35.6cm (11 x 14 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Tesca, Cartagena, Colombia' 1966 (printed 2008)

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Tesca, Cartagena, Colombia
1966 (printed 2008)
Cibachrome print
Image: 25.7 x 25.7cm (10 1/8 x 10 1/8 in.); sheet: 35.6 x 27.9cm (14 x 11 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

 

The most comprehensive retrospective of the work of American photographer, filmmaker, and writer Danny Lyon in twenty-five years debuted at the Whitney on June 17, 2016. The first major photography exhibition to be presented in the Museum’s downtown home, Danny Lyon: Message to the Future is organised by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, where it will make its West Coast debut at the de Young Museum on November 5, 2016.

The exhibition assembles approximately 175 photographs and is the first to assess the artist’s achievements as a filmmaker as well as a photographer. The presentation also includes many objects that have seldom or never been exhibited before and offers a rare look at works from Lyon’s archives, including vintage prints, unseen 16mm film footage made inside Texas prisons, and his personal photo albums.

A leading figure in the American street photography movement of the 1960s, Lyon has distinguished himself by the personal intimacy he establishes with his subjects and the inventiveness of his practice. With his ability to find beauty in the starkest reality, Lyon has presented a charged alternative to the vision of American life presented in the mass media. Throughout, he has rejected the traditional documentary approach in favour of a more immersive, complicated involvement with his subjects. “You put a camera in my hand,” he has explained, “I want to get close to people. Not just physically close, emotionally close, all of it.” In the process he has made several iconic bodies of work, which have not only pictured recent history, but helped to shape it.

“We are delighted to partner with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco on Danny Lyon: Message to the Future,” stated Adam D. Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art. “Since the early 1960s, Lyon’s photographs and films have upturned conventional notions of American life. The Whitney has long championed Lyon’s work and we are thrilled to present this retrospective, which encompasses more than half a century of important work.”

In 1962, while still a student at the University of Chicago, Lyon hitchhiked to the segregated South to make a photographic record of the Civil Rights movement. His other projects have included photographing biker subcultures, exploring the lives of individuals in prison, and documenting the architectural transformation of Lower Manhattan. Lyon has lived for years in New Mexico, and his commitment to personal adventure has taken him to Mexico and other countries in Latin America, China, and the less-traveled parts of the American West.

“Danny Lyon is one of the great artists working in photography today,” said Julian Cox, Founding Curator of Photography for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Chief Curator at the de Young Museum. “Lyon’s dedication to his art and his conviction to produce work underpinned by strong ethical and ideological motivations sets him apart from many of his peers.

Press release from the Whitney Museum of American Art

 

Ongoing activism

Lyon’s first encounter with Latin America was through a trip to Colombia in February 1966, during which he photographed extensively in and around Cartagena. In the 1970s and 1980s, Lyon’s self-described “advocacy journalism” took him to Bolivia, where he captured the hard lives of rural miners; Mexico, where he photographed undocumented workers moving back and forth across the U.S. – Mexico border; back to Colombia, where he made the film Los Niños Abandonados, chronicling the lives of street children; and to Haiti, where he witnessed firsthand the violent revolution overthrowing Jean-Claude Duvalier’s dictatorship.

More recently, Lyon made six trips between 2005 and 2009 to Shanxi province in northeast China. Aided by a guide, he photographed the people living in this highly polluted coal-producing region. As in his work in the civil rights movement and the Texas prisons, Lyon’s photographs from his travels are examples of his advocacy journalism, part of his effort to “change history and preserve humanity.”

 

Danny Lyon. 'Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Port-au-Prince, Haiti' February 7, 1986

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
February 7, 1986
Gelatin silver print
Image: 21.3 x 32.1cm (8 3/8 x 12 5/8 in.); sheet: 27.9 x 35.6cm (11 x 14 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Occupy

Danny Lyon. 'Occupy Demonstration on Broadway, Los Angeles' 2011

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Occupy Demonstration on Broadway, Los Angeles
2011
Inkjet print
Image: 24.5 x 32.9cm (9 5/8 x 12 15/16 in.); sheet: 32.7 x 40cm (13 x 15 3/4 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

Danny Lyon. 'Occupy Oakland, City Hall, Oakland' 2011

 

Danny Lyon (American, b. 1942)
Occupy Oakland, City Hall, Oakland
2011
Pigmented inkjet print
Image: 24.6 x 33cm (9 3/4 x 13 in.); sheet: 27.3 x 38cm (10 3/4 x 15 in.)
Collection of the artist

 

 

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street
New York, NY 10014
Phone: (212) 570-3600

Opening hours:
Mondays: 10.30am – 6pm
Tuesdays: Closed
Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: 10.30am – 6pm
Saturdays and Sundays: 11.00am – 6pm

Whitney Museum of American Art website

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17
Mar
13

Exhibition: ‘Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ’ at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Exhibition dates: 21st October 2012 – 24th March 2013

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Y Portfolio' 1978

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Y Portfolio
1978
37.7 x 35.5 x 4.9cm closed
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Partial Gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

 

“The X Portfolio centers on men engaged in gay sex, including hard-core sadomasochism. The subject wasn’t entirely new. In Greek vase decorations, Indian miniatures and pagan temple sculptures, candid and highly refined sex pictures, heterosexual and homosexual, have been around since before Alexander the Great and the Mahabharata.”

.
Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times Art Critic

 

 

Robert Mapplethorpe made photographs of hard-core sadomasochistic gay sex. Robert Mapplethorpe made photographs of hard-core sadomasochistic gay sex. Robert Mapplethorpe made photographs of hard-core sadomasochistic gay sex. Robert Mapplethorpe made photographs of hard-core sadomasochistic gay sex.

A fist up an arse, a finger down the penis, a dildo up the bum. These photographs are seminal images in the work of the artist and yet we never get to see them online. Would it be too shocking for the sensibilities of the gallery or the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation that these cause célèbre images, five of which were used as evidence in the obscenity trial of Director Dennis Barrie and the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center in 1990, were actually seen?

Instead we have two tame representations from the X Portfolio in the posting.

If you go to the slick Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation website, what do you find in the portfolio section: tasteful self portraits, male nudes, female nudes, flowers, portraits, statuary. Nothing to suggest that Mapplethorpe was one of the most transgressive artists of the twentieth century, an artist who documented an essential element of gay culture AS ART, who famously said that there was nothing shown in his photographs that he hadn’t done himself. Not an inkling, not a whisper, not a bull whip up the arse to be found. This is the sanitised vision of the artist – the desire, the pleasure, the release of living, re-shackled under the commercialisation of brand Mapplethorpe.

It’s like the Foundation is afraid of the artist’s shadow. On their website they state that the Foundation was set up by Mapplethorpe in part to protect his work and advance his creative vision. The X Portfolio and his early work are part of that vision, deserving to be seen by everyone – online!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for allowing me to publish some of the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a a larger version of the image.

 

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Cedric, N.Y.C. (X Portfolio)' 1978

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Cedric, N.Y.C. (X Portfolio)
1978
19.5 x 19.5cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Partial Gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Irises, N.Y.C. (Y Portfolio)' 1977

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Irises, N.Y.C. (Y Portfolio)
1977
19.5 x 19.5cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Partial Gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Jim, Sausalito (X Portfolio)' 1977

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Jim, Sausalito (X Portfolio)
1977
19.5 x 19.5 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Partial Gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

 

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents three portfolios created by American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989). The exhibition, Robert Mapplethorpe: XYZ, features a total of thirty-nine black-and-white photographs, exploring three subject matters: homosexual sadomasochistic imagery (X, published in 1978); flower still lifes (Y, 1978); and nude portraits of African American men (Z, 1981). LACMA’s presentation will showcase the works in three rows – X above, Y in the middle, and Z along the bottom – an idea which was suggested by Mapplethorpe in 1989.

“Robert Mapplethorpe is among the most important photographic artists of the twentieth century,” comments Britt Salvesen, Department Head and Curator of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at LACMA. “The X, Y, and Z portfolios not only defined the artist’s career, but also played a role in an important moment of American cultural politics that is still pertinent to us today.”

This is the first presentation of Mapplethorpe’s work since last year’s widely publicised joint acquisition by LACMA, The J. Paul Getty Museum, and The Getty Research Institute of Mapplethorpe’s art and archives – including over 1,900 editioned prints and over 1,000 non-editioned prints, 200 unique mixed-media objects, over 160 Polaroids, 120,000 negatives, and extensive working materials, ephemera, and documents. The majority of the acquisition originated as a generous gift from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, and the remainder of the funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust.

Concurrent with the LACMA exhibition, The J. Paul Getty Museum presents In Focus: Robert Mapplethorpe, on view October 23, 2012 – March 24, 2013. This single-gallery exhibition reviews the artist’s work from the early 1970s to the late 1980s, and features editioned prints, rarely seen mixed-media objects, and Polaroids that depict a wide range of subject matter including self-portraits, nudes, and still lifes. A larger Mapplethorpe retrospective, jointly organised by LACMA and the Getty, is planned for 2016.

 

About the artist

Born in 1946, Robert Mapplethorpe grew up in the suburban area of Floral Park, Queens. As a student at the Pratt Institute in New York, he studied drawing, painting, and sculpture and experimented with various materials in mixed-media collages. When Mapplethorpe acquired a Polaroid camera in 1970, he began incorporating his own photos into his constructions. His first solo gallery exhibition, Polaroids, took place at Light Gallery in New York City in 1973.

Two years later he transitioned from the Polaroid to a Hasselblad medium format camera and began shooting his circle of friends and acquaintances. His subjects – artists, musicians, socialites, pornographic film stars, and members of the S & M underground – came from a variety of backgrounds. Mapplethorpe’s interest in documenting the New York S&M scene was strongest in the late 1970s, when he produced photographs with shocking content but remarkable technique and formal mastery. In 1978, the Robert Miller Gallery in New York City became his exclusive dealer. Throughout the 1980s, Mapplethorpe produced images that challenged and adhered to classical aesthetic standards including stylised compositions of male and female nudes, delicate flower still lifes, and studio portraits of artists and celebrities. He explored and refined different techniques and formats – including colour 20″ x 24″ Polaroids, photogravures, platinum prints on paper and linen, Cibachrome and dye transfer colour processes – but gelatin silver printing remained his primary medium.

In 1986, Robert Mapplethorpe was diagnosed with AIDS. Despite his illness, he accelerated his creative efforts, broadened the scope of his photographic inquiry, and accepted numerous commissions. The Whitney Museum of American Art mounted his first major American museum retrospective in 1988, one year before his death in 1989. Beyond the art historical and social significance of his work, his legacy lives on through the work of Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, which he established in 1988 to promote photography, support museums that exhibit photographic art, and to find medical research in the fight against AIDS and HIV related infection.

 

Exhibition history

Mapplethorpe’s work has historically provoked strong reactions, most notably during the so-called Culture Wars of the 1980s, a period of conflict between conservative and liberal factions. The traveling retrospective, The Perfect Moment, opened at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia in 1988. Among the 150 photographs and objects in the show were the sadomasochistic imagery of Mapplethorpe’s X portfolio, as well as the Y and Z portfolios; the show appeared in two venues without any incident. When it was due to open at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., during the summer of 1989, politicians who opposed federal funding for the arts became alarmed. The Corcoran canceled the exhibition, resulting in a protest against the gallery’s withdrawal of the show. Controversy ensued further at a subsequent venue, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, where charges of obscenity were brought against director David Barrie. In this high-profile trial, five images from the X portfolio were used as evidence. Barrie was acquitted, and Mapplethorpe has been linked to debates about censorship ever since.

Press release from The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) website

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Carnation, N.Y.C. (Y Portfolio)' 1978

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Carnation, N.Y.C. (Y Portfolio)
1978
19.5 x 19.5cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Partial Gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Alistair Butler, N.Y.C. (Z Portfolio)' 1980

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Alistair Butler, N.Y.C. (Z Portfolio)
1980
Gelatin Silver Print
19.5 x 19.5cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Partial Gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Leigh Lee, N.Y.C. (Z Portfolio)' 1980

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Leigh Lee, N.Y.C. (Z Portfolio)
1980
Gelatin Silver Print
19.5 x 19.5cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Partial Gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Rose, N.Y.C. (Y Portfolio)' 1977

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Rose, N.Y.C. (Y Portfolio)
1977
Gelatin silver print
Image 19.5 x 19.5 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Partial Gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe. 'Z Portfolio' 1978

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Z Portfolio
1978
37.7 x 35.5 x 4.9 cm closed
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Partial Gift of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the David Geffen Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard (at Fairfax Avenue)
Los Angeles, CA, 90036
Phone: 323 857-6000

Opening hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 11am – 5pm
Friday: 11am – 8pm
Saturday, Sunday: 10am – 7pm
Closed Wednesday

LACMA website

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04
Nov
09

Exhibition: ‘A Few Frames: Photography and the Contact Sheet’ at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 25th September – 3rd January 2010

 

David Wojnarowicz. 'Untitled' 1988

 

David Wojnarowicz (American, 1954-1992)
Untitled
1988
Synthetic polymer on two chromogenic prints
11 x 13 1/4 in. (27.9 x 33.7 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Purchase with funds from the Photography Committee
Courtesy of The Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York, NY

 

 

I gently massaged more photographs of work in the exhibition from the Whitney press office after initially only being able to download one press image! Many thankx to the Whitney for supplying three more images.

As the press release mentions them by name, presumably there will be some of the Robert Frank contact sheets which you can see at the posting Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans and the water towers of Bernd and Hilla Becher two photographs of which can be seen at the posting Notes on a conversation with Mari Funaki.

In case you don’t know the work of artist David Wojnarowicz he was a gay man who died of HIV/AIDS aged 37 in 1992: I believe he was one of the most talented and subversive artists of his generation and his powerful images of identity, sexuality, power and death remain seared in my memory. Unfortunately there are not many good images to be found online but there is an excellent Aperture book, Aperture 137 Fall 1994 (David Wojnarowicz: Brush Fires in the Social Landscape) available from Amazon.

Please click on the photographs in the posting for a larger version of the image.

 

Harrison

 

Rachel Harrison (American, b. 1966)
Contact Sheet (should home windows…)
1996
Chromogenic print on fibreboard
20 x 16 in
Collection of the artist 
courtesy Greene Naftali, New York
© 2009 Rachel Harrison

 

 

“In this selection of works drawn principally from the Whitney’s permanent collection, the repetitive image of the proof sheet is the leitmotif in a variety of works spanning the range of the museum’s photography collection, including the works of Paul McCarthy, Robert Frank, Ed Ruscha, and Andy Warhol. The exhibition is co-curated by Elisabeth Sussman, Whitney Curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, and Tina Kukielski, Senior Curatorial Assistant. A Few Frames opens on September 25, 2009 in the Sondra Gilman Gallery and runs through January 3, 2010.

Decisions about which photograph to exhibit or print are frequently the end result of an editing process in which the artist views all of the exposures he or she has made on a contact sheet – a photographic proof showing strips or series of film negatives – and then selects individual frames to print or enlarge. Repetition, seriality, and sequencing – inherited from the contact sheet – are evident in all of the works on view. As co-curator Tina Kukielski notes, “this presentation includes a variety of photographs that build on the formal, thematic, and technical logic of the editing process.”

The exhibition includes photo-based works from sixteen featured artists in the Whitney’s collection. The work of David Wojnarowicz and Paul McCarthy present the contact sheet as a work of art, while those of artists such as Andy Warhol, Harold Edgerton, and Robert Frank play with its repeating forms. Other works call to mind the format of the contact sheet, such as Bernd and Hilla Becher’s typological study of industrial water towers and Silvia Kolbowski’s grid of appropriated images of female fashion models.

Works by contemporary artists such as Rachel Harrison and Collier Schorr in their continued interest in the contact sheet, despite perhaps growing trends toward digital photography, reveal the residual and sustained effects of this process.”

Press release from the Whitney Museum of American Art website [Online] Cited 01/11/2009 no longer available online

 

Schorr_DayDream

 

Collier Schorr (American, b. 1963)
Day Dream (Sky)
2007
Collage
48 x 43 in. (121.9 x 109.2 cm)
Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

 

Warhol

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Untitled (Cyclist)
c. 1976
Four gelatin silver prints stitched with thread
27 3/8 x 21 5/8 in. (69.5 x 54.9 cm) overall
Unique Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and purchase with funds from the Photography Committee
© 2009 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. /Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

 

Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
New York, NY 10021
General Information: (212) 570-3600

Opening Hours:
Sunday – Monday, Wednesday – Thursday 10.30am – 6pm
Friday and Saturday 10.30am – 10pm
Closed Tuesday

Whitney Museum of American Art website

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04
Jan
09

Exhibition: ‘William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Exhibition dates: November 7th 2008 – January 25th 2009

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' c.1971-73

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
c.1971 – 1973
from Troubled Waters 1980
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Untitled' 1973

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1973
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (America, born July 27, 1939) 'Memphis' c. 1970

 

William Eggleston (America, b. 1939)
Memphis
c. 1970
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

 

One of the most influential photographers of the last half-century, William Eggleston has defined the history of colour photography. This exhibition is the artist’s first retrospective in the United States and includes both his colour and black-and-white photographs as well as Stranded in Canton, the artist’s video work from the early 1970s.

William Eggleston’s great achievement in photography can be described in a straightforward way: he captures everyday moments and transforms them into indelible images. William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008 presents a comprehensive selection from nearly fifty years of image-making.

Born in 1939 in Sumner, Mississippi, a small town in the Delta region, Eggleston showed an early interest in cameras and audio technology. While studying at various colleges in the South, he purchased his first camera and came across a copy of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s book The Decisive Moment (1952). In the early 1960s, Eggleston married and moved to Memphis, where he has lived ever since. He first worked in black-and-white, but by the end of the decade began photographing primarily in colour. Internationally acclaimed and widely traveled, Eggleston has spent the past four decades photographing all around the world, conveying intuitive responses to fleeting configurations of cultural signs and moods as specific expressions of local colour. Psychologically complex and casually refined, bordering on kitsch and never conventionally beautiful, these photographs speak principally to the expanse of Eggleston’s imagination and have had a pervasive influence on all aspects of visual culture. By not censoring, rarely editing, and always photographing, Eggleston convinces us of the idea of the democratic camera.

This exhibition was organised by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in association with Haus der Kunst, Munich.

Text from the Whitney Museum of American Art website

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Many thankx to the Whitney Museum of American Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

 

 

William Eggleston video

“This candid interview with photographer William Eggleston was conducted by film director Michael Almereyda on the occasion of the opening of Eggleston’s retrospective William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008 at the Whitney Museum of American Art. A key figure in American photography, Eggleston is credited almost single-handedly with ushering in the era of colour photography. Eggleston discusses his shift from black and white to colour photography in this video as, “it never was a conscious thing. I had wanted to see a lot of things in colour because the world is in colour”. Also included in this video are Eggleston’s remarks about his personal relationships with the subjects of many of his photographs.”

 

 

 

Stranded in Canton

In 1973, photographer William Eggleston picked up a Sony PortaPak and took to documenting the soul of Memphis and New Orleans.

“These were the Merry Prankster and “Easy Rider” years, when road trips and craziness were cool, and Mr. Eggleston set out on some hard-drinking picture-taking excursions. He also embarked on repeated shorter expeditions closer to home in the form of epic bar crawls, which resulted in the legendary video “Stranded in Canton.”

Originally existing as countless hours of unedited film and recently pared down by the filmmaker Robert Gordon to a manageable 76 minutes, it was shot in various places in 1973 and 1974. (The new version is in the retrospective.) Mr. Eggleston would show up with friends at favourite bars, turn on his Sony Portapak, push the camera into people’s faces and encourage them to carry on.

And they did. Apart from brief shots of his children and documentary-style filming of musicians, the result is like some extreme form of reality television. Your first thought is: Why do people let themselves be seen like this? Do they know what they look like? You wonder if Mr. Eggleston is deliberately shaping some tragicomic Lower Depths drama or just doing his customary shoot-what’s-there thing, the what’s-there in this case being chemical lunacy. For all the film’s fringy charge there’s something truly creepy and deadly going on, as there is in much of Mr. Eggleston’s art. You might label it Southern Gothic; but whatever it is, it surfaces when a lot of his work is brought together.”

Holland Cotter. “Old South Meets New, in Living Color,” on The New York Times website Nov 6, 2008

 

William Eggleston (America, b. 1939) 'Untitled' c. 1976

 

William Eggleston (America, b. 1939)
Untitled
c. 1976
From Election Eve
© Eggleston Artistic Trust
Courtesy Cheim & Read Gallery

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)' 1980

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)
1980
Dye-transfer print
29.6 x 45.5 cm (11 5/8 x 17 15/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' Nd from 'Los Alamos' 1965-68 and 1972-74 (published 2003)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
Nd
From Los Alamos 1965-68 and 1972-74 (published 2003)
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' Nd

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
Nd
Dye-transfer print
From Los Alamos 1965-68 and 1972-74 (published 2003)
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' c. 1975 (Marcia Hare in Memphis Tennessee) c. 1975

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Marcia Hare in Memphis Tennessee)
c. 1975
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (America,born July 27, 1939) 'Huntsville, Alabama' c. 1971

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Huntsville, Alabama
1971
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled, 1965' (Memphis Tennessee)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis Tennessee)
1965
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Untitled (Memphis)' c. 1969-71

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis)
c. 1969-71
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust
Courtesy Cheim & Read Gallery

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Untitled' 1983

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1983
From a series of photographs taken at Graceland
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust
Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art

 

 

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street
New York, NY 10014
Phone: (212) 570-3600

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Whitney Museum of American Art website

William Eggleston exhibition web page

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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