David Zwirner to represent the Estate of Roy DeCarava

David Zwirner has announced its exclusive worldwide representation of the Estate of Roy DeCarava. The gallery is planning a solo exhibition of DeCarava’s work for 2019 in New York on the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the artist’s birth. Concurrently, The Sweet Flypaper of Life, DeCarava’s best-selling 1955 collaboration with the poet Langston Hughes, will be reissued by First Print Press, with worldwide distribution through David Zwirner Books, D.A.P., and Thames & Hudson.


David Zwirner states: “For me, Roy DeCarava constitutes a missing link in the art history of the twentieth century. DeCarava is a giant to those who know his work, and will be a revelation to those who don’t―the extraordinary power and beauty of his images were certainly revelatory to me when I first encountered them. I am just so honored and proud that the gallery can now embark on this journey to further the legacy of this unique artist. We want to thank the Estate of Roy DeCarava, especially Sherry Turner DeCarava for her remarkable dedication and expertise, and the trust she has put in the gallery.”

Over the course of six decades, American artist Roy DeCarava (1919–2009) produced a singular collection of black-and-white photographs of modern life that combine formal acuity with an intimate and deeply human treatment of his subject matter. Grounded by a unified theory of the visual plane, his work displays a subtle mastery of tonal and spatial elements and devotion to the medium of photography as a means of artistic expression. DeCarava created images that carry an emotional impact in their immediate relationship to the viewer, while also revealing less-than-visible terrains. As Bennett Simpson has noted, DeCarava’s images are “suffused with a kind of lyrical haze, a propensity for dim light and shadow, and suggest a language of the self, rich in tone, feeling, and abstraction.

DeCarava’s pioneering work privileged the aesthetic qualities of the medium, carrying the ability to reach the viewer as a counterpoint to the view of photography as mere chronicle or document and helping it to gain acceptance as an art form in its own right.

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