Roy DeCarava’s famous photographs can normally be the subject of gallery exhibitions, but this spring they will also appear on clothing offered by Supreme.
The collection, which includes a hoodie and two t-shirts printed with black-and-white images of unnamed Harlem subjects photographed by DeCarava, is set to release in the United States and Japan on May 19 and May 21, respectively.
DeCarava, who is best known for his black-and-white images of Harlem taken in the 1950s, trained as a printmaker and painter before embarking on a career as a photographer. In 1952, he became the first black photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship.
He then used the grant to produce the 1955 photobook The soft fly paper of life, which features text by poet Langston Hughes and follows the fictional life of a Harlem grandmother. The same year, he opened the short-lived Photographer’s Gallery in New York and ended up teaching at Hunter College in 1975.
Supreme featured artwork by Nan Goldin and Keith Haring on its apparel. The brand worked in tandem with the DeCarava Archives to produce the collection, with all proceeds benefiting the Harlem-based Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Supreme’s collaboration with the archives comes as DeCarava experiences a new level of mainstream attention. His images were included in the landmark 2017 traveling exhibition “The Soul of a Nation: Art in an Age of Black Power,” which focused on the work of black artists between 1963 and 1983.
Last January, the mega-gallery David Zwirner, which began representing DeCarava’s estate four years ago, mounted a large-scale exhibition dedicated to the late photographer, who died aged 89 in 2009. He this was the first major investigation into DeCarava’s history. work in 30 years.