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Clifford Vaughs, another SNCC photographer, is arrested by the National Guard

  • Accession Number:
  • Artist:
    Lyon, Danny
  • Date:
    1964; printed 2010
  • Medium:
    Gelatin silver print
  • Dimensions:
  • Credit Line:
    Gift of Peter Chatzky


About the Photographer

Lyon, Danny

American, b. 1942 Brooklyn, NY

Danny Lyon's early documentary career was established and defined by his gritty photographer-as-participant approach. His first book, The Movement (1964), evolved from his experiences as a staff photographer for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee during the Civil Rights Movement. In the Bikeriders series(1968), which Sparky and Cowboy, Shereville, Indiana is a part of, Lyon rode and lived with the bikers he photographed. Lyon's work belies the standard detachment of documentary humanism and objectivism in favor of a more complicated subjective involvement. Danny Lyon's photojournalistic style is marked by its staunch pursuit of the unembellished moment. Clearing Land, Ellis Unit, Texas, a picture of a prison work gang, is part of a series on prison life that later became the book Conversations with the Dead (1971). Continuing his interest in the communities that develop – voluntarily or otherwise – on the outskirts of mainstream society, Lyon photographed the daily routine and rituals that evolve in prison and within which issues of race, masculinity, and class coalesce.

Born in 1942 in Brooklyn, Danny Lyon received a BA from the University of Chicago in 1973. As a photographer and filmmaker, Lyon has shown insight into the worlds of those who live outside the mainstream of society. In 1967, for instance he was given unrestricted permission to photograph the lives of convicts in Texas prisons, resulting in the portfolio Conversations with the Dead (1971). His films include Little Boy (1977), Los Ninos Abandonados (1975), and Social Sciences 127 (1969). Lyon's work has been frequently exhibited and collected; he is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and National Endowment for the Arts grants in both film and photography.