ROY DECARAVA: A RETROSPECTIVE
The nearly two hundred superb plates in this book survey a half-century of work by a great American photographer. First applauded for The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955), a book on life in Harlem with text by Langston Hughes, Roy DeCarava is also known for his extraordinary photographs of jazz musicians - Billie Holiday, Milt Jackson, John Coltrane, and many others. A master of poetic contemplation and of sensual tonalities in black and white, DeCarava is, above all, a photographer of people. In his pictures of couples and children, of men at work and protesters on the march, he presents a compelling unity of private feeling and social conviction.
Born in 1919, DeCarava was trained as a painter and printmaker. He turned to photography in the late 1940s and in 1952 won a Guggenheim Fellowship, the first awarded to an African-American photographer. His early photographs of life in Harlem, at once tender and unsentimental, announced a powerful new talent. In 1956 he embarked on an extended series of jazz pictures, which in 1983 was exhibited at The Studio Museum in Harlem as The Sound I Saw. In the early 1960s, photographs of workers in New York's garment district and of civil-rights protests brought a new boldness to his work, as his style became leaner without losing its lyric grace. A life-long New Yorker, DeCarava has almost always worked close to home, making from his own world the expansive world of his art. Since 1975 he has taught photography at Hunter College, where he is Distinguished Professor of Art of the City University of New York.
10.2 x 1 x 11.8 inches