Entertainment :: Books

The Seventh Dog

by Daniel Scheffler
Contributor
Sunday Jun 22, 2014
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This gorgeousness from Phaidon documents five decades of the American photographer Danny Lyon's work. "The Seventh Dog" is a beauty that sits with great delight on the table with some flowers next to it. Lyon, a maestro, has that deserving place in your life as it is.

Perfectly chronologically arranged the book tells the fascinating story in Lyon's own words as he photographed the American civil rights movement, the Chicago bikers, Berkeley coffee shops and a New York that lives on forever...

We learned that Lyon, a self taught photographer, was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens. He started with publishing his work while working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and then decided to make his own books. The first was "The Bikeriders" in 1968, and not only did he photographer bikers in the Midwest, he eventually became a member of the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club and traveled the country with them.

Lyon is a national treasure; perhaps politically we need to revisit his work. Racism is still around, and the prison system is still in disarray...

There was "The Destruction of Lower Manhattan" in 1969, documenting large-scale breaking down of the city's buildings and structures. Also "Conversations with the Dead" in 1971, where Lyon photographed prisons (and even befriended some inmates) for just over a year and made a statement about the "penal system of Texas as symbolic for incarceration everywhere."

Lyon is that quintessential photographer we knew last century - one that didn't rely on celebrity only. He believed that photos should be taken and disseminated as statements about the state of affairs. Lyon never backed down because he was violating something that was seen as race sensitive or controversial - he created the magic with his lens because he knew he had to for a bigger cause.

Phaidon, again, captures this Lyon's proud and loud spirit in the book so perfectly. There is a personal love for this project that's evident in Lyon's words and yet the images don't dominate the book either - they seem to work together in a way of saying without one or the other this would be less relevant. I think that's brave for a photographer - who could easily hide behind his shots only. Lyon is a national treasure; perhaps politically we need to revisit his work. Racism is still around, and the prison system is still in disarray...so what's happened? Hear the quiet roar.


"The Seventh Dog"
Danny Lyon
Phaidon
$70.00

Based between New York and Cape Town, Daniel Scheffler writes about socio political and travel matters and is working on a memoir. Follow him on Twitter @danielscheffler.

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