Danny Lyon: Message to the Future

Solo en Inglès

Listen to commentary from scholars Elisabeth Sussman, Todd Gitlin, Julian Cox, and artist Danny Lyon on selected works in the exhibition Danny Lyon: Message to the Future.


Danny Lyon (b. 1942), Abandoned homestead, Corson County, South Dakota, 2000. Gelatin silver print. 14 9/16 x 17 7/8 in. (37.1 x 45.1 cm). Collection of the artist. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Julian Cox: Beginning in the late 1990s through to about 2001, Danny Lyon made a great deal of work on the Indian reservations throughout the American West. 

This architectural study is part of his broader goal to document and describe the breadth of these communities and the places where people live or have lived and the starkness in this instance of the prairie context where the landscape goes on for miles and miles. The population is very widely distributed with these small communities that are really hanging on by their fingertips.

Narrator: Take a moment to look around at the other photographs of the Indian Nations. They look a bit different from Lyon’s other works. 

Julian Cox: He worked primarily with a Polaroid camera that used positive-to-negative film. An important part of this process involved him producing positive prints there in the field. He would often give those Polaroids to his subjects as a way to involve them in his work, to include them  so that they had a sense of what his goals were, what his aspirations were for the work.

Then back in his studio, he would take the negatives and print them on this very warm-toned paper. It's called Kodak Ektalure paper. It's a very rich black and white paper that provides a warm sepia tone finish. Quite different from other papers that he used in other bodies of work that he made. He did that intentionally. He wanted this work to look different and not to appear overly journalistic or to have the look of magazine photography. He wanted to provide more warmth and intimacy to this work.