Recorded in: Bernalillo, New Mexico
Episode Length: 53:38
Air Date: June 20, 2018
Produced by: Jordan Weitzman
Edited by: Cristal Duhaime
Danny Lyon is a living legend in photography. Born in 1942 to a Russian-Jewish mother and German-Jewish father, he grew up in Kew Gardens, Queens and went on to study history and philosophy at the University of Chicago. Beginning in the early 1960’s while in his early twenties, he was drawn to the civil rights movement in the south which he immersed himself in and documented. He became lifelong friends with Julian Bond and congressman John Lewis, whom he lived with in an apartment in Atlanta. He was in jail with Martin Luther King, jr. During that decade, he became a member of the Chicago Outlaw biker gang which he photographed over a period of a few years and he made work in a Texas prison that would eventually become the books, The Bikeriders (1968) and Conversations with the Dead (1971), respectively.
Lyon is a Guggenheim fellow twice over (1969 & 1978) and his work is held in countless museum collections around the world including in The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
While he devoted himself to photography throughout the 60’s, he turned to film in the early 70’s. His first film, Social Sciences 127 is about a wild tattoo artist named Bill Sanders, which he shot and then edited at Robert Frank’s apartment. It was at his apartment that Frank introduced Lyon to Danny Seymour, who would give him a cheque for $7,000 to finish his next film, Llanito. As a result of Seymour financing his film, Lyon was able to use his own savings to buy a piece of irrigated land in Bernalillo, New Mexico. He built a house on the land with an undocumented Mexican worker named Eddie, which he and his wife Nancy still live in today. We conducted this interview in the living room of their house.
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