Influential social documentary photojournalist Danny Lyon writes that for Conversations with the Dead — done over a 14-month period in the Texas Department of Corrections’ prison system in 1967 and ’68 when he was only 25 years-old — he “tried with whatever power I had to make this picture of imprisonment as distressing as it is in reality.”
Published in 1971, Lyon’s monumental account inside six penitentiaries uses letters and drawings along with intimate photographs to focus on the lives of the inmates – particularly death row inmate Billy McCune, who was ultimately set free. Newly reissued by Phaidon Press, the book comes at a time when—Lyon notes in a new afterword—America’s prison system has mushroomed: “In Texas I photographed a world of over 12,500 men (and women). Within a generation that number exploded to over 200,000.”
This masterful body of work speaks to the power of images and story by one of the great social conscienc- es of our time. Etherton Gallery is pleased to present the complete 80-photograph portfolio at a time when yet another new generation must join the conversation about one of the most important ethical issues facing America today.