Silverstein Photography is honored to present Nathan Lyons: TRILOGY, an extensive exhibition of published photographic works spanning the influential career of the noted photographer, critic, author, curator and educator. Featuring approximately 100 prints, each selected and juxtaposed by the artist, TRILOGY is an epic investigative journey into American culture. Transporting the viewer sequentially through each one of his publications, Notations in Passing, Riding 1st Class on the Titanic! and After 9/11, TRILOGY offers the rare opportunity to sample Lyons’ life work.
TRILOGY commences its journey in 1962, when at the age of 32, Lyons switched to a 35mm camera. Formally educated in literature and drama, and newly appointed as Associate Director and Curator of Photography of the George Eastman House, Lyons began to explore the use of language in imagery, by incorporating signage, advertisement and posters, to form visual metaphors. Along with the other photographers of his generation such as Gary Winogrand and Lee Friedlander (who’s first one man exhibition was organized by Lyons in 1963), Lyons’ “snap shots” of the American landscape explored fragments of contemporary culture. In addition, he became increasingly aware of the dialectic nature of sequencing. Notations in Passing is considered a seminal photographic publication for this reason.
By 1974, at the inception of a body of work that would become Riding 1st Class on the Titanic, Lyons’ career was in full swing. He had already published several important books and catalogs, including Photographers on Photography (1966), Photography in the 20th Century (1967), Towards a Social Landscape (1967), and Persistence of Vision (1968). He also founded the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester in 1969, which is a model for an interdisciplinary approach to the study of photography and visual culture. Riding 1st Class on the Titanic!, the title of which was derived from an image with a graffiti message spray-painted on a wall of a camera store, spans 22 years. At that time, graffiti was becoming an increasingly popular form of expression by writers and artists, and began to appear throughout American cities. The opportunity to incorporate fragmented words was irresistible to Lyons, and furthered his exploration of the interaction between visual expression and language itself.
After 9/11 was published in response to the tragic and unforeseen events of September 11, 2001. Photographing in small towns and large cities throughout America, Lyons captures the extreme and often confusing variety of responses on the streets of America.
Nathan Lyons, 76, continues to photograph and teach. He has received many distinguished honors throughout his career including the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement in Photography in 2000. In 1985, Lyons received a National Endowment for the Arts Senior Fellowship. His work is in over 60 museum collections around the world.