A moving retrospective of the revered photographer whose career as a curator, educator, and critic spanned more than half a century—and whose contributions to the craft of photography have left an enduring imprint.
Launching his curatorial career at the George Eastman House in 1957, Nathan Lyons (1930–2016) soon made a mark in the museum world and in his workshops for photographers and curators alike. Yet his supporting role in the careers of rising stars such as Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand sometimes eclipsed the public’s awareness of Lyons’s own pioneering photography. Coinciding with a major exhibition at the George Eastman Museum in 2019, Nathan Lyons: In Pursuit of Magic is a long-overdue celebration of Lyons’s astonishing body of work.
Featuring more than two hundred and fifty compelling images, accompanied by critical essays, the book charts the distinct phases of Lyons’s career. His early work, exemplified by his exuberant initiatives of the 1960s—the Visual Studies Workshop and the Society for Photographic Education—demonstrated that street photography and formalism are not mutually exclusive, as university photography courses began migrating from journalism to art departments. His final years, which included a shift to color at age eighty, are also explored in depth. A companion to Nathan Lyons: Selected Essays, Lectures, and Interviews, this is the definitive visual sourcebook on a highly influential innovator.
- Foreword by Bruce Barnes
- Moments in a Real World, by Jessica S. McDonald
- Early Works: 1957–1963
- Notations in Passing: 1963–1973 (published in 1974)
- Both/And, Not Either/Or: Representation versus Abstraction, by Lisa Hostetler
- Riding 1st Class on the Titanic!: 1974–1998 (published in 1999)
- After 9/11: 2001–2002 (published in 2003)
- Return Your Mind to Its Upright Position: 1999–2009 (published in 2014)
- In Pursuit of Magic, by Jamie M. Allen
- Diptychs: 2001–2004
- Color: 2013–2016
- Selected Chronology by Jessica S. McDonald
- Selected Bibliography by Jessica S. McDonald
- Photography Credits
- About the Contributors
“Nathan Lyons worked outside mainstream aesthetics, eschewing pomposity, while capturing wonderment amid everyday banality.”
New York Times
“[Nathan Lyons] offers us a look at Lyons's final work, which sends us back to the beginning to search his career again for new levels of meaning.”
Photo District News
“Nathan Lyons: In Pursuit of Magic details his vision and demonstrates its relevance for a new, visually sophisticated audience.”
The Eye of Photography