Jack, Chicago, 1967
Danny Lyon (United States, born 1942)
Silver gelatin print
12 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches
Gift of Arnold and Temmie Gilbert 1988-14-32
Influenced by the documentary work of Walker Evans, James Agee, and Robert Frank, Danny Lyon has spent his career photographing American subcultures. Originally from New York City, Lyon began experimenting with photography at age seventeen. He studied history at the University of Chicago and joined the civil rights movement in 1962, becoming staff photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. From 1962 to 1966 he worked intensively on photographs and interviews for his book The Bike Riders, published in 1968. He rode, socialized, and made friends with members of the Chicago Outlaws, eventually joining the motorcycle club.
In Jack, Chicago, a biker drinks coffee at a small diner. Jack is shown from behind, his membership in the club signified by the insignia on the back of his jacket. Centered in the composition, he appears to be unaware of being photographed. The cook in the upper left-hand corner also has his back to the camera, lending a candid quality to the image. Many photographs in the series are directly related to bike riding, races, and drinking, while others, such as this one, show quieter, less dramatic moments.
Text by Natasha Ritsma, from Krannert Art Museum: Selected Works, 2008