A Radical Vision: Roy DeCarava’s The Sweet Flypaper of Life

David Zwirner Books, New York / USA

October 29, 2018
October 15, 2018
The Great Hall at The Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street
New York, NY
United States


Discussion moderated by Thelma Golden featuring Radiclani Clytus, A.D. Coleman, Leslie Hewitt, John Stauffer, and Hope Wurmfeld.

RSVP here

"My photographs are subjective and personal—they’re intended to be accessible, to relate to peoples’ lives... People—their well-being and survival—are the crux of what’s important to me."–Roy DeCarava, PBS interview, 1997

Join us for an evening of discussion and analysis of the place of Roy DeCarava’s (CU, A’40) oeuvre in American art with a special focus on the much-anticipated republication of The Sweet Flypaper of Life by First Print Press this fall. This volume, which DeCarava created with the poet Langston Hughes in 1955, has been out of print for over thirty years and will be distributed worldwide by David Zwirner Books, D.A.P., and Thames & Hudson.

With one of the longest and most prolific careers in American photography, DeCarava remains inexplicably underknown to the broader public. His photography speaks of the distinct issues of his time and his medium while reaching deeply within to produce relational and creative imagery. The Sweet Flypaper of Life—which honors in words and pictures what the authors saw, knew, and felt deeply about life in their city—can be appreciated as an unconventional collaboration around universal themes and remains a volume unique in the canon of visual literature. The panel discussion will provide an opportunity to explore the contributions of DeCarava’s work in Sweet Flypaper within the larger context of American art.

Leading up to the centennial anniversary in 2019 of the artist’s birth, the panel will be moderated by Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, and will feature noted critics, scholars, and colleagues well versed in DeCarava’s work, including younger artists inspired by its visionary creative reach. Panelists include independent filmmaker Radiclani Clytus; writer and critic A.D. Coleman; Leslie Hewitt (CU A’00), Assistant Professor at The Cooper Union School of Art; John Stauffer, professor of English and of African and African American studies at Harvard University; and photographer Hope Wurmfeld.

The event is free and open to the public. General public should reserve a space here. Please note seating is on a first-come basis; an RSVP does not guarantee admission as we generally overbook to ensure a full house.