Over the last half century, American photographer Danny Lyon has presented a charged alternative to the sanitized vision of American life presented in the mass media. Lyon has rejected the standard detached humanism of the traditional documentary approach in favor of a more immersive one with his subjects. The photographer has not only been able to document history, but also help shape it with his iconic work.
In recognition of this, the Whitney Museum of American Art is hosting the first major retrospective of the photographer’s work in 25 years in an exhibition entitled, Danny Lyon: Message to the Future. The exhibit includes 175 photographs, offering a rare look into Lyon’s archive, which features vintage prints; unseen 16 mm film footage from inside Texas prisons; and his personal photo albums. This is the first time a museum has curated his works as a filmmaker, too.
A leading figure in the street photography movement of the ’60s, Lyon’s first major project—while he was still a student—was documenting the Civil Rights Movement. From there, Lyon continued to cover social issues, documenting biker subcultures, prisoners, and the changing landscape of Lower Manhattan. Danny Lyon: Message to the Future is on display at the Whitney until September 25. After that, it will make its West Coast debut at the de Young Museum in San Francisco on November 5, 2016. For more information on the exhibition, click here. View a sampling of it below.