Danny Lyon is Magnum photojournalist mainly known for his images of Chicago bike gang ‘The Outlaws’, whom he rode with and befriended.
Yet as the current retrospective of his work at the Whitney proves, there is much, much more to him than that.
I’d been aware of his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement but the images that particularly impressed me were those he took in the Texas Prison system in the late sixties. These are accompanied by two short 4 minute black and white documentaries that show a shakedown of inmates by guards and the daily life of prisoners.
A longer color documentary that appears to have been shot in the early eighties, also covers suffers the same subject matter. What is clear from all of the documentaries and photographs is the ease with which Lyon bonds with his subjects getting them to trust him and open up.
The result is gritty and touching by turn. In short, a beautiful portrait of outlaw life and the sometime tragic existence of the marginalized.