While still a history student at the University of Chicago, 21 year old Danny Lyon (b. 1942) began taking photographs for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), photographs which became classic images of the civil rights movement published in a documentary book about the events in the south titled The Movement. He was also taking photographs of his friends and fellow bikers, people he called “outlaws” because of their disdain for and distance from middle class American values. The powerful images of that series were self-published in Bikeriders, 1967, thus initiating the New Journalism or “late” phase of Socially Conscious Photography.
Lyon's photographic and film projects are always characterized by a profound social and personal intimacy with his subjects. He has created uniquely memorable bodies of work including a photographic record of the civil rights movement in the 1960s American South, a photographic odyssey following biker subcultures, and an exploration of the lives of individuals in prison. His photography projects are often paralleled by the artist's films and published texts.
The Whitney displays a collection of Lyon's montages alongside a selection of his documentary work and two of his little-known films. Shown for the first time as a group are montages from his 1999 book Knave of Hearts, created during the artist's personal retrospective of his own career. His other works include Conversations with the Dead 1971, a look at prison life in Texas and I Like to Eat Right on the Dirt, a compilation of Polaroids of his children. Lyon also creates film documentaries and received the Guggenheim Foundation fellowship for photography and filmmaking.
Whitney Museum of American Art Web Site