“Two women, mannequin’s hand” (1952) by Roy DeCarava

 

THE ARTISTRY AND EXPRESSION of Roy DeCarava (1919-2009) is on full display at David Zwirner in London. “Roy DeCarava: Selected Works” features more than 60 photographs spanning seven decades, from 1948-2004. A master of light and shadow, DeCarava’s black-and-white images frame New Yorkers on the street, the subway, in natural landscapes, and in tightly cropped portraits; capture abstract compositions of architecture, objects, and human subjects; and visualize Harlem, the community and its residents. The exhibition is the first UK solo show of the pioneering and acclaimed photographer’s work in more than 30 years. In 1988, The Photographers’ Gallery, a public gallery in London, presented “Roy DeCarava.” The exhibition of 60 works was DeCarava’s first-ever solo show in Britain. CT

 

“Roy DeCarava: Selected Works” is on view at David Zwirner in London, from Jan. 14-Feb. 19, 2022

FIND MORE about the exhibition

 


Installation view of “Roy DeCarava: Selected Works,” David Zwirner London (Jan. 14—Feb. 19, 2022). | Photo by Anna Arca, Courtesy David Zwirner

 


ROY DECARAVA, “Horse and rider under tree,” 1987 (silver gelatin print). | © The Estate of Roy DeCarava. All rights reserved, Courtesy David Zwirner

 

“My photographs are subjective and personal―they’re intended to be accessible, to relate to people’s lives.…People―their well-being and survival―are the crux of what’s important to me. — Roy DeCarava


ROY DECARAVA, “Skylight,” 1965 (silver gelatin print, Print: 11 x 14 inches / 27.9 x 35.6 cm; Framed: 16 3/8 x 20 3/8 inches /41.6 x 51.8 cm). | © The Estate of Roy DeCarava. All rights reserved, Courtesy David Zwirner

 


ROY DECARAVA, “Billie Holiday,” 1952 (silver gelatin print). | © The Estate of Roy DeCarava. All rights reserved, Courtesy David Zwirner

 


Installation view of “Roy DeCarava: Selected Works,” David Zwirner London (Jan. 14—Feb. 19, 2022). | Photo by Anna Arca, Courtesy David Zwirner

 

“He was composing works of art with light, shadow, and an unapologetic love of silver gelatin’s immersive tonalities—from the brightest rays of light to a scintillating obsidian darkness. He engaged these tones to articulate a shared human identity and community, all while broadly evoking his aesthetic principles.” — Zoé Whitley, Chisenhale Gallery


ROY DECARAVA, “Protester behind pillar,” 1975 (silver gelatin print). | © The Estate of Roy DeCarava. All rights reserved

 


ROY DECARAVA, “Bill and son,” 1962 (silver gelatin print). | © The Estate of Roy DeCarava. All rights reserved, Courtesy David Zwirner

 


Installation view of “Roy DeCarava: Selected Works,” David Zwirner London (Jan. 14—Feb. 19, 2022). | Photo by Anna Arca, Courtesy David Zwirner

“By the time [DeCarava] died, his body of work had come together to form, among other things, a monumental poetics of blackness, one that explored the ways in which race can define a person’s style and essence, and made it clear how poorly or negligently the color black had been used in much of American photography before DeCarava came along.”
— Hilton Als, The New Yorker


ROY DECARAVA, “Six figures in sunlight,” 1985 (silver gelatin print). | © The Estate of Roy DeCarava. All rights reserved, Courtesy David Zwirner

 


ROY DECARAVA, “Donald Byrd,” 1962 (silver gelatin print). | © The Estate of Roy DeCarava. All rights reserved, Courtesy David Zwirner

 

TOP IMAGE: ROY DECARAVA, “Two women, mannequin’s hand,” 1952 (silver gelatin print; Print: 11 x 14 inches / 27.9 x 35.6 cm; Framed: 16 3/8 x 20 3/8 inches / 41.6 x 51.8 cm). | © The Estate of Roy DeCarava. All rights reserved, Courtesy David Zwirner

 

FIND MORE about Roy DeCarava on his website

READ MORE about Roy DeCarava from Hilton Als in The New Yorker

 

ON VIEW The exhibition “Helen Cammock: Concrete Feathers and Porcelain Tacks” is currently showing at The Photographers’ Gallery in London (Oct. 15, 2021-Feb. 13, 2022)

 

BOOKSHELF
A pair of volumes was published on the occasion of Roy DeCarava exhibitions at David Zwirner Gallery in 2019. “Roy DeCarava: the sound i saw” documented a broad survey show and “Roy DeCarava: Light Break” accompanied a series of jazz images of legendary figures such as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday. The latter publication was initially developed by DeCarava in the 1960s and first published by Phaidon in 2001. The new edition from David Zwirner Books includes new contributions by Radiclani Clytus and Sherry Turner DeCarava. Since “The Sweet Flypaper of Life,” DeCarava’s acclaimed collaboration with Langston Hughes, was first published in 1955, additional editions have been issued, including a 1967 reprint from Hill and Wang and this version from Howard University Press in 1984. David Zwirner Books issued the latest version of “The Sweet Flypaper of Life” in 2018. Over the years, a number of volumes have documented many other series and shows, including “Roy DeCarava: A Retrospective,” his 1996 survey at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

 

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