Wednesday, November 11, 2009

ROY DeCARAVA: 1919-2009

The photographer Roy DeCarava has died. The great chronicler of 20th century African-American life, especially in New York, DeCarava had a sophisticated aesthetic and a capacious sense of life. As one example of just how sophisticated, check out this picture, which I would say is the work of a man who had thought long and hard about Leger's great painting The City. In 1996 he had a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, a wonderful show that I reviewed for Time.

Like Cartier-Bresson, DeCarava had an eye for the off-kilter visual intricacies that a photograph can contain within its frame, so that even when he was working in a documentary vein, it was with an acute and unorthodox sense of spatial organization. I think one thing I said about him at the time of that MoMA show still stands:

To the question of what's personal and what's political, what's lyric and what's documentary, he offers back a teasing answer. It all is.

For more, click HERE.

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