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Thursday, 08 November 2012

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Great story. Thanks for sharing. I'm a big fan of Lyon's work.

Many years ago I established a very good relationship with a photo book dealer, from whom I bought many fine condition first editions. He unexpectedly gifted me with a 1997 edition of The Bikeriders, one of 150 slipcased copies signed by Danny Lyon.

This column obviously reminds me of that treat, but ironically and unfortunately on more than one level given the posted photo. That bookseller, I learned after not hearing from him for some time, was arrested and sent to prison for some bad things totally unrelated to his book business. I was shocked.

I haven't looked at my Lyon book for quite awhile; maybe a good day to do so.

"We have lost our democracy, mostly through lack of courage."

No, we have not. We have only lost the will to publish. There is nothing today standing between those who want to produce and those who want to consume. The democracy of the marketplace is absolutely intact, and no barrier deprives any of us of reaching out and delivering what we wish.

Today, anyone can have a custom book published. Today, anyone can start a website. Today, anyone can post to a blog. There is no barrier between the producer and the consumer. None.

When a magazine dies because it doesn't produce revenue, then face up to the real reason: the consumer doesn't care. Apathy. Don't flinch from the real statement, "I didn't buy your book because I don't care." That statement will always ring with truth.

People care about photographs because what they see evokes emotion within them. Without that emotion, nobody cares. Apathy.

Has Danny Lyon lost his own courage to publish? Today, now, that's his decision.

I have a few issues of Camera Arts that survived a rather bad broken pipe incident in our basement. Loved that magazine and miss it.
I would pay good money for a Kindle edition of all the back issues. Not holding my breath on that.

I must confess I don't understand Brian Miller's point. Camera Arts magazine was conceived in 1980, which I remember as the year Ronald Reagan defeated incumbent Jimmy Carter for president. Danny Lyon wrote his piece, published in Aperture, on the death of Camera Arts magazine in 1983. Conservatism and Reaganomics had begun to take hold. It was a far different world back then. Computers were primitive. The internet we know today was non-existent. There were no blogs. No websites. No broadband. To apply what is possible today to 1983 makes absolutely no sense, at least to me. Miller writes, "There is nothing today standing between those who want to produce and those who want to consume. The democracy of the marketplace is absolutely intact, and no barrier deprives any of us of reaching out and delivering what we wish." This may or may not be true today, but it certainly was not true 30 years ago, and it has no bearing on Danny Lyon, who doesn't need me to defend his courage. Miller further writes, "When a magazine dies because it doesn't produce revenue, then face up to the real reason: the consumer doesn't care. Apathy." Camera Arts had a growing and enthusiastic reader base. In 1982, it received the National Magazine Award for General Excellence. No, Camera Arts was killed because the corporation that owned it had other plans, and an agenda that none of us on the editorial side knew about. But that's all I am prepared to say on the matter. After 30 years, that dog should be left to rest in peace.

--Jim Hughes

I love Danny Lyon. That book in the link is excellent.

Thanks very much for the story, Jim.

I very recently had the opportunity to participate in the review of the AIC's Danny Lyon prints and portfolios. I was already familiar with much of the work (ex: Dead and the motorcycle gang) but I was struck by how good a printer Lyon is/was when he set his mind to doing so. Some of the best b&w photogs of his day would shoot mindful of their printing limits. Lyon seemed to shoot like he already had a digital camera with raw facilities. Yet he could eke out presence from otherwise blown highlights and crushed shadows consistently.

Separately, earlier this year I was at a dinner with several museum curators and collectors. Danny Lyon's name popped forth during the evening's conversation. I've never seen such a mixed group become so instantly and strongly polarized. It seemed that those who knew/know him thought a bit less of him than those who did not. For his talents he seems to have pissed-off many, many people.

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