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Photographer Roy DeCarava Dies at 89
Friday, October 30, 2009
The photographer best known for his black-and-white depictions of Harlem has died.
His daughter, Susan, said Roy DeCarava died Tuesday at age 89 of natural causes in Manhattan.
The Harlem native was the first African-American artist to win a Guggenheim Fellowship, according to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). He was trained as a painter, but turned to covering Harlem with a 35 millimeter camera in the 1950s.
Jazz legends Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane were a few of DeCarava's subjects. In 1955, DeCarava also collaborated with Harlem Renaissance great Langston Hughes on the book The Sweet Flypaper of Life.
"He photographed for himself, and ultimately produced a body of work that enshrined the social contradictions of the '50s, the explosion of improvisational jazz music in the '60s, the struggle for social equity, the boldfaced stridency of the '70s and '80s, only to turn to even more contemplative realities during the later years of his life," his wife Sherry Turner DeCarava said in a statement.
After taking photos for a time for Sports Illustrated, DeCarava began teaching photography at Hunter College in 1975. He's been the subject of 15 solo shows and his photos reside in the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, according to the NEA.
Besides his wife and daughter Susan, he is also survived by daughters Wendy and Laura DeCarava, according to The Associated Press.