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Press Release

Forty Years

July 15 through September 4, 2004
Opening Reception, Thursday, July 15, 7 - 9 p.m.

The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present the work of revered documentary photographer Danny Lyon. The exhibition is composed of Lyon's iconic images from The Bikeriders, Conversations with the Dead (a two year trip inside the Texas prison system in the late 1960's), plus seminal images from non-fiction essays done in the 80's, 90's and the new millennium. These include work with young dealers in Bushwick, New York, and remarkable portraits and landscapes done with Native Americans, from his recent book Indian Nations. A selection of Lyon's color work from the 1960's, that has rarely been seen, from The Bikeriders series and from his recent work in Cuba is also included.

"Danny Lyon is considered a pioneer of a socially conscious documentary photography…whose work looks at people living on the margins of mainstream society." (D. Macleod & J. Strausbaugh, New York Press, November 2002) His photographs from The Bikeriders were taken when he was a student at the University of Chicago and a rider. They are images of his friends and namely a fellow student who dropped out of school to ride professionally. Lyon says, "What I considered the perfect realism of camera, aimed at scruffy, blue collar Americans (among the Outlaws that did work were truck drivers, mechanics and an electrician) was meant to show an America that really did not exist." Danny's images in Indian Nations also captures a presence in America that remains largely ignored. Over four years, he visited dozens of Indian reservations using only a Polaroid camera. Lyon explains his decision to use a Polaroid camera; "I did this for two reasons. The first is that I did not want my pictures to look like journalism, even though that is exactly what they are. Second, with a Polaroid I was able to show and give a picture I was making to the people I was photographing." Lyon's subjects possess a striking presence and his images are engaging. He is an interested "reporter" and actively participates in the events he records. Lyon says, "I believed when I began, that my photographs, when successful, conferred a kind of immortality on the people and places I photographed, and that they would live and be looked at after they and I am gone."

Danny Lyon photographs have been part of the American iconography since he first burst onto the scene as the photographer for the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), where at the age of twenty he made some of the classic images of the civil rights movement. Since that work in the early 1960's, Lyon has produced ten books of photographs, won two Guggenheims, a Rockefeller Fellowship, and ten fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, in photography and non-fiction film. His pictures and books have been an influence in photography, journalism, and motion pictures. They have been presented on the floor of congress and used as evidence in prison reform trials. Once called the golden boy from the golden age of photography in Chicago, his years with the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club produced The Bikeriders, recently released in its third edition by Chronicle. It has been argued that his pictures and life with motorcyclists in 1965 and 1966 were an inspiration for the film Easy Rider. Lyon has said, "I would prefer to reach large numbers of ordinary people, with work that does not require 'an education' to understand or appreciate."

Lyon's work has long been part of the permanent collections of the MOMA, the Metropolitan, the Whitney, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C., and all the major California museums.