Roy DeCarava

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Roy DeCarava (December 9, 1919 – October 27, 2009) was an African American painter and photographer who resided in Harlem, New York City. DeCarava was known for his work chronicling the lives of African-Americans and jazz artists in Harlem. DeCarava came to be known as a founder of a photography style separate from the "social documentary" style of his predecessors who documented African-American life.[1] His use of shadows in his photography underscored the way African-Americans were being questioned by society during the civil rights era. [2]


DeCarava produced five major books, including The Sound I Saw and The Sweet Flypaper of Life as well as landmark museum catalogs and retrospective surveys from the Friends of Photography and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.[3][4] The subject of at least 15 single artist exhibitions, DeCarava was the first African American photographer to win a Guggenheim Fellowship and in 2006, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest award given to artists by the United States Government.[5]

DeCarava encouraged other photographers and believed in the accessibility of the medium. From 1955 – 1957, at his own expense, he established and supported A Photographer's Gallery in his apartment in a brownstone block at 48 West 85th Street,[1] New York, in which was shown work of the great names of American photography of the period.

Roy DeCarava died on October 27, 2009.[6]

Works consulted[edit]

  • [The Sound I Saw][1]. Phaidon Press, 2000
  • Roy DeCarava, A Retrospective. Museum of Modern Art New York, NY 1996
  • Roy DeCarava, Photographs. Edited by James Alinder, Friends of Photography, 1981.
  • Ralph Eugene Meatyard. published by International Center of Photography, 2004, Introduction by Cynthia Young.
  • [Thumbnail View] [2]. Luna.


  1. ^ Kennedy, Randy (2009-10-28). "Roy DeCarava, Harlem Insider Who Photographed Ordinary Life, Dies at 89". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-11-11. 
  2. ^ Cole, Teju (2015-02-18). "A True Picture of Black Skin". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-11-11. 
  3. ^ Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes The Sweet Flypaper of Life. Washington DC: Howard University Press 1984 (Reprint)
  4. ^ Museum of Modern Art] American Visions, December 1999. Accessed August 23, 2009.
  5. ^ National Endowment for the Arts. 2006 National Medal of Arts. Roy DeCarava. Photographer, New York. Accessed August 23, 2009.
  6. ^ Multiple news stories.

External links[edit]