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Roy DeCarava
1919-2009, New York
Bio
Exhibitions

Roy DeCarava was one of the key protagonist of Afro-American New York in the 1950s. Born in Harlem, for more than sixty years he photographed the daily life (and night life) of his city, capturing both common people and the most prominent figures from the world of jazz, such as John Coltrane and Louis Armstrong. In 1946 he purchased a camera in order to document his own works of painting and drawing: that camera became just the medium thanks to which in 1952 he was the first black photographer to win the Guggenheim Fellowship.
In The Sweet Flypaper Of Life, a book of images published in in 1955, and then in his following works, DeCarava rejects sociological or political overtones in favor of capturing the lives of the New York communities through his intimate images full of affection, yet without ever giving way to sentimentalism. The Darkness which characterized many of his black and white photographs, always captured using ambient light, actually articulates a wealth of tonal grays, particularly rich at the deeper end of the scale, which have become a hallmark of his work. He championed a nuanced and subtle approach to printing by hand as opposed to the high-contrast printing of much standard photography. With an active intelligence working on all these surfaces, DeCarava’s images bring out a sense of human dignity alongside the bitter-sweet aspects of reality.
The photograph titled Dancers – included in The Sound I Saw, a book become a magnus opus in the American photographic canon – shows the suspended tension and energy of two men while dancing jazz in the classic vaudeville style.

10 years old

2007-2017: a history of the world told through the images of the Fondazione Cassa di risparmio di Modena Collection

March 11 - April 30, 2017

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Flags of America

CIAC, Foligno

19 marzo - 10 luglio 2016

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Destini/Storie/Vite

Photographs from the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena Collection at CAMeC, La Spezia

July 11th - August 31th 2014

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Flags of America

The major American authors of 1940s/1970s

15th December | 7th April 2013

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Roy DeCarava

Dancers, New York, 1956
gelatin silver print
33,5 x 22,5 cm
© 2012 Sherry Turner DeCarava