Danny Lyon

November 19 – December 19, 2009


James Harris Gallery is pleased to present the work of photographer Danny Lyon with an exhibition that brings together a selection of Lyon’s iconic images from 1962 to 1972. Lyon is a pivotal figure who rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s to transform documentary photography. His work is an example of “New Journalism,” in which the photographer became immersed as participant in the documented subject. Over twenty of his signature images will be on view.

The show will include images from the seminal series The Bikeriders, Conversations with the Dead, Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement and Lyon’s visit to Colombia. Danny Lyon’s photographs have been part of the American iconography since he first burst onto the scene as the photographer for the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), where at the age of twenty he made some of the classic images of the civil rights movement.

Lyon’s photographs from The Bikeriders were taken when he was a student at the University of Chicago. The images of his friends who dropped out of school to ride professionally are a personal attempt to document the joys, risks and romance of dirt track racing and motorcycle gang life. Internationally recognized as a powerful documentation of American counter culture from 1963 to 1967, the images are as powerful today as they were when they were taken.

Conversations with the Dead, documents a two year trip inside the Texas prison system in the late 1960s. At the time, he was free to photograph during any time of day which allowed him to document a personal record of the prisoners as they functioned in groups or existed in isolation. Lyon’s sincere portrait of oppression of the American penal system is recognized as a groundbreaking work of photojournalism.

Since that work in the early 1960’s, Lyon has produced ten books of photographs, won two Guggenheims, a Rockefeller Fellowship, and ten fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, in photography and non-fiction film. His pictures and books have been an influence in photography, journalism, and motion pictures.

Lyon’s work has long been part of the permanent collections of the MOMA, the Metropolitan, the Whitney, the Art Institute of Chicago, Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C., Henry Art Gallery, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and many other institutions.

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