DeCarava, Roy

DeCarava, Roy, 1919–2009, American photographer, b. Harlem, New York City, as Roy Rudolph DeCarava; he studied (1944–45) under Charles White at theGeorge Washington Carver Art School. He intended to be a painter, but photography, specifically photographing the life around him in Harlem, became his chosen medium by the mid-1940s. Working in black and white, he was not a social documentarian but a recorder of everyday African-American life; his still images are also profound studies of light and shadow. DeCarava may be best known for his collaboration with poet Langston Hughes on the verse story of a Harlem family, The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955, repr. 2018). To support himself, he worked as a freelance magazine photographer, and also taught at Cooper Union (1969–72) and Hunter College (1975–2009).

See his The Sound I Saw (2001, repr. 2019) and Light Break (2019); J. Alinder, ed., Roy DeCarava: Photographs (1981); P. Galassi, Roy DeCarava: A Retrospective (museum catalog, 1996).

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