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Roy DeCarava

(12.9.19 - 10.27.09)

Roy DeCarava

Edward Steichen once said that Roy DeCarava was one of the ten greatest living photographers in the world. He also sponsored him to be the first African-American photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1952.

When speaking of Roy DeCarava’s body of work, one cannot extricate him from race, time, and the community that produced him. DeCarava grew up in Harlem in the 1930’s and 40’s, post-Depression and the war years. It was not the segregated South, but it was the tacitly segregated North. He learned at an early age that he would have to be twice as good at his craft to be recognized. His talent enabled him to enroll in the prestigious art school, The Cooper Union. However, it was the Harlem Art Center that provided his most passionate training and where his talents took flight. He studied painting, drawing, and printmaking. He began taking photos to use as a reference, to copy from in his drawings and paintings, but he found he had a penchant for photography, and it soon took over.

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