Danny Lyon (American, b. March 16, 1942) is a photographer and filmmaker. Lyon grew up in Queens, NY, and earned a BA at the University of Chicago in 1963. He published his photographs for the first time in the same year while working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. A book about the Southern civil rights movement, titled The Movement, featured his photographs. In 1967, Lyon started to create his own books, starting with a study of outlaw motorcyclists called The Bikeriders. During this period, he also became a member of the Chicago Outlaws motorcycle club and spent time traveling with them.

In 1969, Lyon created The Destruction of Lower Manhattan. The project was a compilation of photographs that illustrated the massive demolition throughout the Lower Manhattan area in 1967. Although the book initially sold for US$1, it became a collector's item and was reprinted in 2005. Lyon then took on a project that consisted of photographing six prisons from 1967 to 1968. Included with the photographs was text about the state of the situations. The project was titled Conversations with the Dead, and Holt Publishing printed the book in 1971. While working on the project, Lyon was able to get to know many of the prisoners. He was a clear participant in the New Journalism movement, where the photographer immersed himself into the situation and became a participant of the subject matter of the work.

In 1969, Lyon was the recipient of the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship for photography, and he also received the award for filmmaking in 1979. His solo exhibitions have taken place at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Lyon also founded the photography group Bleak Beauty. The group uses photography to express the realities of life. Lyon's documentary work was greatly influenced and encouraged by Hugh Edwards, a friend and curator of photography.

Timeline

1963
B.A. History, University of Chicago
1982
National Endowment for the Arts, Southwest Alternate Media Project, production grant, for WILLIE
1983
National Endowment for the Arts, photography fellowship
1985
New York Federation of the Arts, film
1985
Ann Arbor Film Festival Award, for BORN TO FILM
1985
New York State Council for the Arts, film
1989
National Endowment for the Arts, film production grant, for MEDIA MAN
1990
Rockefeller Fellowship, film, for MEDIA MAN
1994
Gustav Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights Award, MEMORIES OF THE SOUTHERN CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
1994
Maine Photographic Workshop Award, MEMORIES OF THE SOUTHERN CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
1995
Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, The Art Institute of Boston

Exhibitions

2006
“Far from Queens”, Musrara School, The Cinemateque, Jerusalem
2005
PIP, Ping Yao, Shanxi Province, China
2005
“The Destruction of Lower Manhattan”, Museum of the City of New York
2005
“Unpublished”, Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
2003
“Danny Lyon, Forty Years”, Gallerie Kamel Mennour, Paris
2003
“The Bikeriders: Pictures and Audio from the 1960’s”, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
2002
“Heart Butte”, Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
2002
“Danny Lyon: Photographs, 1962-2000”, The Art Institute of Minneapolis, Minnesota
2000
“Danny Lyon: Born to Lose”, Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
1999
“Danny Lyon: Indian Nations,” A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans