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Nathan Lyons: In Pursuit of Magic will open at the George Eastman Museum on Friday

Jan 23rd, 2019

Rochester, N.Y., January 23, 2018The George Eastman Museum is set to open a retrospective of the late Nathan Lyons, to celebrate the impact the photographer, curator, writer, and educator has had on the history and practice of photography. Nathan Lyons: In Pursuit of Magic will open to the public on Friday, January 25 and will remain on view through June 9.

The exhibition, which includes 160 photographs and photobooks, offers the first opportunity to see Lyon’s final photographs alongside his earlier bodies of work. Lyons, who died in 2016, had a tremendous impact on the history and practice of photography. For more than sixty years, his commitment to the medium infused his photographs, photobooks, writings, curatorial practice, and teaching. His work as a writer and curator has been widely celebrated, but his own art is not as well known. Nathan Lyons: In Pursuit of Magic concentrates exclusively on his own photography, which drove his other activities in the field.

One of the primary features of Lyons’s work is his use of juxtaposition and sequence as a core tenet of visual language. He strongly believed in visual literacy as the key to navigating modern social life. His color work brings his vision full circle, providing a platform for discussion about the overwhelming presence of images and advertising in contemporary society. Nathan Lyons: In Pursuit of Magic details his vision and demonstrates its relevance for a new, visually sophisticated audience.

The museum will present a range of programs associated with the exhibition, including a collaboration with Rochester’s WALL\THERAPY, gallery talks with special guests, and a panel discussion about visual literacy that encourages a close look at Lyons’s pictures. A lavishly illustrated book of the same title, co-published by the University of Texas Press and the George Eastman Museum, accompanies the exhibition. In addition to more than 250 photographs, the publication includes new scholarship on the artist by Jamie M. Allen, the Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Associate Curator, Department of Photography, Eastman Museum; Lisa Hostetler, Curator in Charge, Department of Photography, Eastman Museum; and Jessica S. McDonald, Curator of Photography, Harry Ransom Center.

 Nathan Lyons: In Pursuit of Magic was co-curated by Jamie M. Allen and Lisa Hostetler from the George Eastman Museum and is supported by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation.


Public Programs

Exhibition Preview: Nathan Lyons: In Pursuit of Magic

Thursday, January 24, 6 p.m.

6–6:30 p.m., Curators’ Remarks, Dryden

6:30–8 p.m., Exhibition Preview, Main Galleries

Curators Lisa Hostetler and Jamie M. Allen will give opening remarks, followed by a book signing with the curators and a preview of the exhibition in the main galleries. Cash bar and light refreshments. Free to members, $15 general, $10 students. Reservations suggested: (585) 327-4850 or


Gallery Talk with WALL\THERAPY

Saturday, February 16, 1 p.m.

WALL\THERAPY director Erich Lehman and artist Todd Stahl will discuss the use of graffiti and murals as visual language in Nathan Lyons’s photographs. Free to members; included w/ museum admission.


Gallery Talk with Joan Lyons and Jamie M. Allen

Thursday, March 21, 6 p.m.

Joan Lyons, artist and wife of the late Nathan Lyons, and Jamie M. Allen, the museum’s Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Associate Curator, will discuss their interpretations of the color photographs in the exhibition Nathan Lyons: In Pursuit of Magic. Galleries will be open until 8 p.m. Free to members, $10 general, $5 students.


Panel Discussion: Nathan Lyons and Visual Literacy

Saturday, June 1, 12 p.m.

The George Eastman Museum and Visual Studies Workshop will host a panel discussion on visual literacy and its relationship to Nathan Lyons’s work. The panel includes Tate Shaw, director of VSW; A. D. Coleman, independent critic, historian, educator, and curator; and Anne Tucker, curator emerita of photography at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The conversation will be moderated by exhibition curators Lisa Hostetler and Jamie M. Allen. Free to members; included with museum admission.


About the George Eastman Museum

Founded in 1947, the George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the largest film archives in the United States, located on the historic Rochester estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography. Its holdings comprise more than 400,000 photographs, 28,000 motion picture films, the world’s preeminent collection of photographic and cinematographic technology, one of the leading libraries of books related to photography and cinema, and extensive holdings of documents and other objects related to George Eastman. As a research and teaching institution, the Eastman Museum has an active publishing program and, through its two joint master’s degree programs with the University of Rochester, makes critical contributions to the fields of film preservation and of photographic preservation and collection management. For more information, visit

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