Man Lying Down, Subway Steps

A work made of gelatin silver print.

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  • A work made of gelatin silver print.

Date:

1965

Artist:

Roy DeCarava
American, 1919–2009

About this artwork

In 1952, Roy DeCarava became the first African American photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship. In his application, the chronicler of Harlem stated, “I want to show the strength, the wisdom, the dignity of the Negro people. Not the famous and the well known, but the unknown and the unnamed, thus revealing the roots from which springs the greatness of all human beings.” In pursuit of this goal, DeCarava frequently photographed people during their commute in New York City’s subway stations. Here, however, he presented an ambiguous moment: a man rests on the subway steps, suggesting vagrancy, a fall, or some other unknown circumstance. DeCarava increased the illegibility of the image by shooting from an odd vantage point and—as was his preference—by using only the limited available light, lending the scene an eerie, shadowy cast.

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Photography

Artist

Roy DeCarava

Title

Man Lying Down, Subway Steps

Origin

United States

Date

1965

Medium

Gelatin silver print

Inscriptions

Unmarked recto; inscribed verso, lower left, in black ink: "65-6-7 #7"; verso, lower center to lower right, in graphite and black ink: "(c) #39 [in graphite] / Man lying on subway steps printed 1981 by ROY DECARAVA 1965 DeCARAVA [in black ink]"

Dimensions

33.4 × 25.2 cm (image); 35.4 × 27.8 cm (paper)

Credit Line

Gift of David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg

Reference Number

1989.119

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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