Roy DeCarava Was Early to Recognize the Artistic Power of Photography

David Zwirner is showcasing a solo exhibition of work by the late-master photographer, Roy DeCarava. Housed at the gallery’s London location, the show is the first of its kind since his inclusion at Tate Modern’s Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power exhibition in 2017.

DeCarava was a lifelong New Yorker who began his career as a painter, before turning to photography by the mid-1940s. By experimenting with silver gelatin’s rich tonalities, the photographer imbued a deeply human treatment to his subjects and scenes, which included life around Harlem and various Jazz legends, such as John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy Gillespie and Billie Holiday, amongst many.

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Staying true to his roots, DeCarava did not want his photographs to be seen merely as visual documentation, but rather a distinct mode of artistic expression. “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,” he said in a past statement.

The photographer particularly wanted to inquire into the shadowed parts of a photograph, “or how much could be imagined into those shadows,” wrote the art historian, Teju Cole. “Roy DeCarava: Selected Works” is currently on view at David Zwirner London until February 19.

Elsewhere in art, Frieze Sculpture has been canceled in LA due to COVID-delays.

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