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), View through the Rear Wall, 89 Beekman Street, New York, 1967. Gelatin silver print. Collection of Melissa Schiff Soros and Robert Soros. © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York


Narrator: In 1966, Lyon moved to a loft near South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan. He quickly discovered that entire neighborhoods nearby were being demolished to make way for the World Trade Center and other real estate developments.

Elisabeth Sussman: He decided then and there that he would begin to survey the destruction of what was coming down. This one in particular is a very formal picture. The whole thing begins to in your eye take on an abstract quality to it that is painterly in a way. 

Narrator: But Lyon’s interest in these buildings wasn’t purely aesthetic. He published his photographs of them in a book called The Destruction of Lower Manhattan. Here’s how he described the project. "I came to see the buildings as fossils of a time past. These buildings were used during the Civil War....The passing of buildings was for me a great event. It didn't matter so much whether they were of architectural importance. What mattered to me was that they were about to be destroyed. Whole blocks would disappear. An entire neighborhood. Its few last loft occupying tenants were being evicted, and no place like it would ever be built again.”