Book Review: Danny Lyon’s The Seventh Dog

Crossing the Ohio, Louisville / Chicago, 1966–64

Crossing the Ohio, Louisville / Chicago, 1966–64

Danny Lyon is a rebel with a cause. He has spent his career documenting American counter-culture. Every body of work a political statement, the goals of which were to create conversations about social change. His photographs individually are as strong as they are as a whole, THE SEVENTH DOG breaks down a number of his books to their barest forms. He honestly expresses his feelings and intent behind his most well known bodies of work. The books, like visual literature, are Lyon’s true form.

THE SEVENTH DOG is a diary, of sorts. It is organized in reverse chronological order, the cover is an upside down Kodak box,  with a Kelton Labs mailing label (Chuck Kelton has been Lyons printer for decades).  This collaboration is honored by incorporating the Kelton mailing label w a self portrait. The design and packaging of the book allows us to feel like we are opening one of Lyon’s personal “boxes”, containing prints, ephemera and memories. It’s an intimate, visceral and aesthetic experience. The book begins with Occupy Wall Street in 2012, and ends with what is likely one of his first photographs made in 1960, an abstract that, brings Minor White to mind.

Occupy demonstration on Broadway, Los Angeles / Occupy, 2012-2011

Occupy demonstration on Broadway, Los Angeles / Occupy, 2012-2011

In 1962, at the age of 20, Lyon became a member the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Alabama so as to work against segregation. This began the development of his signature style, his photographs, formal but always intimate. As a witness and a participant Lyon delivered what we now know as some of the most important images documenting the virulent racism and  the Movement.

Whatever one’s background, race or social status, to go down south in 1962 to support and document the civil rights movement, was to risk arrest, extreme violence or even death. Lyon’s left Chicago, while he was in the middle of working on BIKERIDERS: one of the great photo books, and the work that began Lyon’s career, not only as a photographer but as an author. Admirable, to say the least, because he went down south not for his personal creative purposes, but to honor a political and social commitment, and to work for the Movement. I’m not sure his desire was to make political statements with his work, rather it was to document, for history what was happening right in front of him. In addition, his images helped to visually define the Movement. In the chapter entitled ‘SNCC Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee 1964-62’  we see SNCC posters using Lyon’s images, and he mentions in the text that some of his photographs are part of a permanent exhibit on the civil rights movement at the Library of Congress. He says this is one of his proudest accomplishments.

Crowds along the funeral route of the four girls murdered in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church, Birmingham, Alabama, September 1963 / Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), 1964–62

Crowds along the funeral route of the four girls murdered in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church, Birmingham, Alabama, September 1963 / Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), 1964–62

The most revealing part of the book is learning about Lyon’s relationships to his subjects. He enjoyed a rare status…one of witness and participant. Lyon was an artist of a certain age. Coming of age during the turmoil of the 60’s informed his choices in subject matter, as much as it did his politics. The text in THE SEVENTH DOG is highly personal, and tinged with sadness.  Lyon lost quite a few friends and colleagues. He writes about Danny Seymour, friend, colleague and legend among a certain generation of artists and filmmakers(Seymour was Robert Frank’s assistant on COCKSUCKER BLUES). Danny Seymour made a photo book, A Loud Song (Lunstrom Press, 1971) which is spoken about on mythic levels and perhaps Lyon gives Seymour a new life here, as he introduces his work to a new generation. You can see how Seymour influenced Lyon and Robert Frank and visa versa. A Loud Song, is Seymour’s first and only photography book. Danny Seymour disappeared in The Caribbean in 1973.

Danny Seymour with his Arriflex and John Lennon / Danny Seymour’s loft, Bowery between Prince Street and Spring, 1970

Danny Seymour with his Arriflex and John Lennon / Danny Seymour’s loft, Bowery between Prince Street and Spring, 1970

Other chapters of the book look at BIKERIDERS, CONVERSATIONS WITH THE DEAD and THE DESTRUCTION OF LOWER MANHATTAN. Also strewn throughout the book are Danny Lyon’s collage works. Most of this work is personal. They are travelogues, family albums and some appear like sketches for larger bodies of work.

Introducing his most recent photographs, in the first chapter entitled “New York, 2012”, Lyon says:  “Many years ago I was being driven along Central Park West in a New York taxi with Robert Frank. When I spoke of using texts with words with photography, as part of what were then called ‘photography books,’ Robert said, ‘Well, then that’s the end of it.’ The year was 1969, and it was not ‘the end of it.’ As a young photographer deep into a career of making picture books with texts, I couldn’t help but feel that Frank’s comment smacked of kicking out the ladder.” Spoken like a true iconoclast.

 

9780714848532-Lyon-The-Seventh-Dog-2D
The Seventh Dog
by Danny Lyon
Phaidon
To purchase the book: http://www.phaidon.com/store/photography/the-seventh-dog-9780714848532/

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MY SISTER WHO TRAVELS @ The Mosaic Rooms

Jananne Al Ani, Aerial V (2011) and Corinne Silva, Imported Landscapes (2010)

Jananne Al Ani, Aerial V (2011) and Corinne Silva, Imported Landscapes (2010)

MY SISTER WHO TRAVELS
18 July – 30 August 2014

a group exhibition of five contemporary women artists who use lens-based media. Each in her own way challenges canonical representations of landscape photography, and their works are presented alongside archival photographs by Esther Van Deman, a Victorian archaeologist, whose work acts as a fulcrum for the project.

The Mosaic Rooms, 226 Cromwell Road, London SW5 0SW

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Stephen Shore @ FONDATION MAPFRE

© Stephen Shoren,U.S. 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, July 21,1973. Courtesy 303 Galley, New York.

© Stephen Shoren,U.S. 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, July 21,1973. Courtesy 303 Galley, New York.

STEPHEN SHORE RETROSPECTIVE
17 septembre – 23 novembre 2014

FONDATION MAPFRE
Salle Barbara de Braganza, 13, Madrid-Espagne

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Richard Renaldi: Touching Strangers @ Photo Center NW

© Richard Renaldi, Elaine & Arly, 2012

© Richard Renaldi, Elaine & Arly, 2012

Richard Renaldi: Touching Strangers
September 10–October 29, 2014

Lecture & Reception: Friday, September 12, 6–9pm

Richard Renaldi creates spontaneous and fleeting connections between strangers by asking them to physically interact while posing together. Often pushing his subjects beyond their comfort levels, through his photographs Renaldi breaks down the societal barriers that separate us.

Photo Center NW
900 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122

 

 

 

 

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Documentary: 19th Annual Photography Exhibition @ Photo Center NW

© Chris Barrett, Icons of Rhetoric, 2013

© Chris Barrett, Icons of Rhetoric, 2013

Documentary: 19th Annual Photography Exhibition
August 1-29, 2014


Lecture:  Friday, August 8, 6:30PM at Seattle Art Museum
Reception: Friday, August 8, 8:00–9:30pm at PCNW
Artists: Noah Addis, Chris Barrett, Antoine Bruy, Jesse Burke, Alejandra Carles-Tolra, Scott Dalton, Miska Draskoczy, Matt Eich, Andrew Fillmore, Daniel Farnum, Cynthia Henebry, Aaron Wojack

Photo Center NW
900 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122

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Melanie Friend @ DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery

Avro Lancaster Bomber (part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight) Eastborne International Airshow, Sussex 15 August 2009.

Avro Lancaster Bomber (part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight) Eastborne International Airshow, Sussex 15 August 2009.

Melanie Friend: The Home Front
21 September

Made over a four-year period, the exhibition considers the civilian experience of war and conflict as a spectacle.

DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery

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Matt Henry @ ONE EYED JACKS GALLERY

unnamed-1Matt Henry: BLUE RIVER FALLS
2ND JULY TO 3RD SEPTEMBER

One Eyed Jacks
28 York Place
Brighton
BN1 4GU
07743 098 530

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MARTIN ROEMERS @ AnastasiaPhoto

unnamed

AnastasiaPhoto
166 ORCHARD STREET NEW YORK, NY 10002

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Portfolio Showcase 2014 @ The Kiernan Gallery

image: Antoine Bruy

image: Antoine Bruy

Portfolio Showcase 2014
July 2014

Reception, Saturday, July 5, 5:00 – 7:00PM

Featuring the works of Susan Keiser, Bootsy Holler, S. Gayle Stevens & Judy Sherrod, and Antoine Bruy.

The Kiernan Gallery
23B W. Washington St.
Lexington, VA 24450

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George Grubb @ SohoPhoto Gallery

Visiting the NY Library

Visiting the NY Library

George Grubb: New York City Wildlife
July 3 – 26, 2014

In absurdity, there is clarity. Thus, the premise for this project uses a unique approach to raise awareness of a well published problem-the need for greater conservation efforts to protect endangered wildlife.  Having traveled to every continent photographing wildlife, the artist juxtaposes his wildlife imagery into New York City scenes and asks, ‘If we cannot protect our wildlife in their environments, where can they be safe?’ ”

SohoPhoto Gallery
15 White Street, New York, NY

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