Roy DeCarava’s famed photographs may normally be the stuff of gallery exhibitions, but this spring, they will also figure on clothing put out by Supreme.
The collection, which features a hoodie and two T-shirts printed with black-and-white images of anonymous Harlem subjects shot by DeCarava, is set to be released in the U.S. and in Japan on May 19 and 21, respectively,
DeCarava, who is best known for his black-and-white images of Harlem taken during the 1950s, trained as a printmaker and painter before embarking on a career in photography. In 1952, he became the first Black photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship.
He later used the grant to produce the 1955 photobook The Sweet Flypaper of Life, which features text by with the poet Langston Hughes and which follows the fictional life of a Harlem grandmother. That same year, he opened the short-lived Photographer’s Gallery in New York and eventually went on to teach at Hunter College in 1975.
Supreme has featured work by Nan Goldin and Keith Haring on its clothes. The brand worked in tandem with the DeCarava Archives to produce the collection, all proceeds from which will benefit the Harlem-based Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Supreme’s collaboration with the archive comes as DeCarava experiences a new level of mainstream attention. His images were included in the landmark 2017 traveling exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” which focused on the work of Black artists between 1963 and 1983.
This past January, the mega-gallery David Zwirner, which began representing DeCarava’s estate four years ago, mounted a large-scale exhibition devoted to the late photographer, who died at the age of 89 in 2009. It was the first major survey of DeCarava’s work in 30 years.