Danny Lyon: Message to the Future at Whitney Museum of American Art, June 17 – September 25, 2016

“Photographer, filmmaker, and writer Danny Lyon (b. 1942) has over the past five decades presented a charged alternative to the sanitized vision of American life presented in the mass media. Throughout, he has rejected the standard detached humanism of the traditional documentary approach in favor 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 traveled 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. (…)” —  Introductory Wall Text

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Danny Lyon, Self-portrait, New Orleans, 1964. Vintage gelatin silver print. 18.2 x 12.2 cm (7 3/16 x 4 13/16 in.). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Danny Lyon, Arrest of Taylor Washington, Atlanta, 1963. Vintage gelatin silver print. 24 x 16 cm (9 7/16 x 6 ¼ in.); Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Danny Lyon, Haiti, 1987. Gelatin silver prints montage. 58.2 x 58.2 cm (22 7/8 x 22 7/8 in.). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Danny Lyon, Self-portrait, Chicago, 1965. Gelatin silver prints montage. 31.2 x 27.8 cm (12 1/4 x 10 15/16 in.). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

2015, Danny Lyon, Bikeriders

Danny Lyon, Crossing the Ohio River, Louisville, 1966. Vintage gelatin silver print. 20.3 x 31.8 cm (8 x 12 1/2 in.). Silverman Museum Collection. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Danny Lyon, Mark Di Suvero and Danny Lyon, Hyde Park, Chicago, 1965. Vintage gelatin silver print. 8 x 10 in. Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Danny Lyon, John Lennon and Danny Seymour, The Bowery, New York, 1969 Gelatin silver print, printed later. 11 x 14 in. Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Danny Lyon, Leslie, Downtown Knoxville, 1967. Vintage gelatin silver print. 28.7 x 19.1 cm (11 1/4 x 7 1/2 in.). Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Mr. Danny Lyon. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Danny Lyon, Shakedown at Ellis Unit, Texas, 1968. Vintage gelatin silver print. 21.6 x 31.3 cm (8 1/2 x 12 1/4 in.). Museum of Modern Art. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Danny Lyon, Weight lifters, Ramsey Unit, Texas, 1968. Vintage gelatin silver print. 7/8 x 13 1/16 in. (image). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

2015, Danny Lyon, Tattoo

Danny Lyon, Bill Sanders, Tattoo Artist, Houston, Texas, 1968. Vintage gelatin silver print. 20.7 x 20.7 cm (8 3/16 x 8 3/16 in.). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York, Danny Lyon, Tattoo

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Danny Lyon, Stephanie, Sandoval County, New Mexico, 1970. Vintage gelatin silver print (decorated). 27.9 x 35.6 cm (11 x 14 in.). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Danny Lyon, Maricopa County, Arizona, 1977. Vintage gelatin silver print. 22.8 x 33.5 cm (9 x 13 3/16 in.). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Danny Lyon, Occupy Oakland, City Hall, Oakland, 2011. Archival pigment print. 24.6 x 33 cm (9 3/4 x 13 in.). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Danny Lyon, Occupy Demonstration on Broadway, Los Angeles, 2011. Digital inkjet print. 13 x 15 ¾ in. Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Danny Lyon, Tesca, Cartagena, Colombia, 1966. Cibachrome, printed 2008. Image 25.7 x 25.7 cm (10 1/8 x 10 1/8 in.). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Danny Lyon: Message to the Future is organized by Julian Cox, Chief Curator and Founding Curator of Photography, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF). The exhibition will be in San Francisco at the de Young Museum, November 5, 2016 through March 12, 2017.

The installation at the Whitney Museum is overseen by Elisabeth Sussman, Curator and Sondra Gilman, Curator of Photography. All images courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art.