The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, May 04, 1972, Page PAGE 13, Image 13

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Danny Lyon
social artist
"What I'm trying to do is art. . . take a real
situation and make art out of it." photographer
and filmmaker Danny Lyon told about 250
students Tuesday night at Sheldon Art Gallery.
Lyon's newest film, "Llanito." had just been
shown and he was answering questions.
Part of "making art" is going beyond oneself
into other worlds, he explained. "It's not a
virtue to never go into your own world deeply,
but it would have been dumb for me to go to
New Mexico and photograph hippies when the
Chicanes have been there for 2,000 years."
Hippies are something Lyon says he has no
interest in photographing. "I've never liked to
photograph my contemporaries, and besides,
university students are the least interesting
people in our society, because they're the
easiest to deal with. Everybody is
photographing hippies."
But social comment is important, though
not to be confused with art. "T oday's subjects
are wildly social topics," he said. "You'd have
to be insane not to be a social artist in our
However, Lyon said, there is a tendency to
see his work as reporting or social comment and
not for the art he intends it to be.
The viewer is left free to draw his own
conclusions from the photographs, he said.
Some see "Uanrto" as an expression of the
tragedy of the Chicanos; others as a piece of
realism or art. "I didn't see any tragedy there,"
Lyon said.
"People should be left free to react in their
own ways-it's closer to the way life is. Tragedy
is a word and life's too complex to just say it's
a tragedy."
Lyon has four books and two other films to
his credit. One book resulted from photographs
taken during the 1964 civil rights movement,
another from seeing an old area of Manhattan
demolished, one from pictures made of the
Chicago Outlaws, a motorcycle gang.
His latest book, "Conversation with the
Dead," is a collection of photographs taken
during 14 months of everyday visits to Texas
"I could've made a movie in prison," he said,
"but I was committed to the book and by the.
time I got done with it I wouldn't go back. I
don't want to go back there agains. I couldn't
begin to talk about it-l don't even like to think
about it."
Most of Lyon's work has been done in very
"strong" geographical areas: New York,
Chicago, New Mexico. Nebraska, he said, is
another such area.
"I've thought about perhaps someday
working in Nebraska. It's an area of tremendous
strength of the people and a very strong world
of its own, its own place."
Other plans for the future include possibly
assembling his best photographs over the last
few years in a book-"kinda like my greatest
This plan is pretty tentative though. "It
seems very inappropriate with North Vietnam
about to capture Saigon, for me to put together
a book of photographs about America. It seems
out of tune You've got to stay in tune with
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