See the real "easy riders" this fall at the Massey, Crystal Bridges
' temporary gallery in downtown Bentonville. Danny Lyon: Bikeriders, on display through October 31, presents photographs and excerpts from Danny Lyon's 1968 book The Bikeriders, a seminal work of modern photojournalism based on Lyon's four years on the road with the Chicago Outlaws. Riding a 650-cc Triumph motorcycle and armed with Nikon and Rolleiflex cameras and a seven-pound portable tape recorder, Lyon documented dirt track racing and motorcycle gang life with photographs and stories that are as raw and compelling today as they were when The Bikeriders was published decades ago. Danny Lyon: Bikeriders, organized by art2art Circulating Exhibitions, features 61 black and white photographs of leather-clad bikers racing, riding and relaxing in cafes, bars and hotel rooms across the United States, accompanied by excerpts from Lyon's interviews.
"Danny Lyon is one of the major figures in post-War American photography," said Chris Crosman, chief curator. "His immersion in his subject matter and use of text from taped interviews were groundbreaking when The Bikeriders was published and continue to be influential today."
Lyon began his career in the early 1960s documenting the Civil Rights movement as staff photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He took up motorcycling while studying history at the University of Chicago and in 1963 joined the Chicago Outlaws with the vision of creating a new kind of photo-story, different from those that appeared in the pages of Life and Look magazines. The Bikeriders established Lyon as a major new talent and propelled the motorcycle counterculture into American consciousness a full year before Dennis Hopper's film Easy Rider was released.
"The Bikeriders represented a significant step in 1960s American photography, not only launching an important photographic career, but also giving a younger generation of photographers a spokesman of their own age," Martin Parr writes in The Photobook: A History, Vol. I. "Lyon was part of the generation he was photographing, so was able to talk with an authentic voice about his subjects, understanding instinctively not only their hopes and aspirations, but also why they were rebelling against all kinds of adult authority."
Danny Lyon has produced ten photography books and ten documentaries on subjects ranging from the 1986 Haitian revolution to inmates of the Texas Department of Corrections. He has received numerous Rockefeller, Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships, and his photographs are included in the collections of major museums across the United States.