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Danny Lyon: Message to the Future

June 17–Sept 25, 2016

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

Danny Lyon: Message to the Future is the first comprehensive retrospective of the career of Danny Lyon (b. 1942) to be presented in twenty-five years. The exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and will premiere at the Whitney in June 2016 before traveling to San Francisco.

The exhibition assembles approximately 175 photographs and related films and ephemera to highlight Lyon’s concern with social and political issues and the welfare of individuals considered by many to be on the margins of society. The presentation includes many objects that have seldom or never been exhibited before and offers a rare look at works from Lyon’s archives alongside important loans from major public and private collections in the United States. This is also the first exhibition to assess the artist’s achievements as a filmmaker.

A leading figure in the American street photography movement of the 1960s, Lyon has distinguished himself by the personal intimacy he establishes with his subjects and the inventiveness of his practice. With his ability to find beauty in the starkest reality, Lyon has through his work provided a charged alternative to the bland vision of American life often depicted in the mass media.

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) and Chief Curator at the de Young Museum. The installation at the Whitney Museum is overseen by Elisabeth Sussman, Curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography.

Danny Lyon: Message to the Future is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Generous support is provided by the Henry Peterson Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Works from the Exhibition

Danny Lyon (b. 1942), Self-portrait, New Orleans, 1964. Vintage gelatin silver print. 7 3/16 × 4 13/16 in. (18.2 × 12.2 cm). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
Danny Lyon (b. 1942), Kathy, Uptown, Chicago, 1965. Vintage gelatin silver print. 9 1/2 × 9 3/8 in. (24.1 × 23.9 cm). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
Danny Lyon (b. 1942, Crossing the Ohio River, Louisville, 1966. Vintage gelatin silver print. 8 × 12 1/2 in. (20.3 × 31.8 cm). Silverman Museum Collection. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
Danny Lyon (b. 1942), Self-portrait, Chicago, 1965. Gelatin silver prints montage. 12 1/4 × 10 15/16 in. (31.2 × 27.8 cm). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
Danny Lyon (b. 1942), Leslie, Downtown Knoxville, 1967. Vintage gelatin silver print. 11 1/4 × 7 1/2 in. (28.7 × 19.1 cm). Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Mr. Danny Lyon. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
Danny Lyon (b. 1942), Mark Di Suvero and Danny Lyon, Hyde Park, Chicago, 1965. Vintage gelatin silver print. 8 × 10 in. Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
Danny Lyon (b. 1942), John Lennon and Danny Seymour, The Bowery, New York, 1969. Gelatin silver print; printed later. 11 × 14 in. Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
Danny Lyon (b. 1942), Pumpkin Reneé, Galveston, Texas, 1967. Vintage gelatin silver print. 6 1/2 × 9 1/4 in. (16.1 × 23.5 cm). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
Danny Lyon (b. 1942), Bill Sanders, Tattoo Artist, Houston, Texas, 1968. Vintage gelatin silver print. 8 3/16 × 8 3/16 in. (20.7 × 20.7 cm). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
Danny Lyon, Shakedown at Ellis Unit, Texas, 1968. Vintage gelatin silver print. 8 1/2 × 12 1/4 in. (21.6 × 31.3 cm). Museum of Modern Art. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
Danny Lyon (b. 1942), Weight lifters, Ramsey Unit, Texas, 1968. Vintage gelatin silver print. 7/8 × 13 1/16 in. (image). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
Danny Lyon (b. 1942), Stephanie, Sandoval County, New Mexico, 1970. Vintage gelatin silver print (decorated). 11 × 14 in. (27.9 × 35.6 cm). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
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Installation Photography

Installation view of Danny Lyon: Message to the Future (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 17–September 25, 2016). Photograph by Ron Amstutz
Installation view of Danny Lyon: Message to the Future (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 17–September 25, 2016). Photograph by Ron Amstutz
Installation view of Danny Lyon: Message to the Future (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 17–September 25, 2016). Photograph by Ron Amstutz
Installation view of Danny Lyon: Message to the Future (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 17–September 25, 2016). Photograph by Ron Amstutz
Installation view of Danny Lyon: Message to the Future (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 17–September 25, 2016). Photograph by Ron Amstutz

Exhibition Catalogue

Danny Lyon: Message to the Future is the first in-depth examination of this leading figure in American photography and film, and the first publication to present his influential bodies of work in all media in their full context. Lead essayists Julian Cox and Elisabeth Sussman provide an account of Lyon's five-decade career. Alexander Nemerov writes about Lyon's work in Knoxville, Tennessee; Ed Halter assesses the artist's films; Danica Willard Sachs evaluates his photomontages; and Julian Cox interviews Alan Rinzler about his role in publishing Lyon's earliest works. With extensive back matter and illustrations, this publication will be the most comprehensive account of this influential artist's work.

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