Roy DeCarava x Supreme Spring 2022 Collaboration

Following on from last week’s sell-out Stone Island collection, Supreme has unveiled its next Spring 2022 collaboration, this time around working with the Roy DeCarava Archives for a range of T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts.

Roy DeCarava was born in Harlem in 1919 and, for over 60 years, was an integral founding part of various photography movements referenced to this day. His work was predominately tonal, capturing the lives of those around him in his native city where later on in his life, in 1950, his photographs would be first exhibited. DeCarava was critically-acclaimed, with the likes of Roberta Smith stating that “DeCarava’s work is itself the best of both worlds. Visually rigorous yet incalculably sensitive to the human predicament and the psychology of everyday life, especially concerning but not limited to African-Americans.”

With an understanding of painting, as this was his former profession alongside being a printmaker and draftsman, DeCarava understood composition, something that infiltrates his photographs heavily. His striking, shadowy silver gelatin prints would go on to open up new technical possibilities in contemporary photography, encouraging the Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole to note “the chiaroscuro effects came from technical choices: a combination of underexposure, darkroom virtuosity and occasionally printing on soft paper.”

DeCarava’s career blossomed after his first exhibition in 1950, as in 1952 he became the first African-American photographer to win a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. Following this, he worked with the poet Langston Hughes on a collaboration titled The Sweet Flypaper of Life, creating a fictional narrative of Sister Mary Bradley, a grandmother of Harlem. This seminal work is considered the touchstone of anthological photobooks, inspiring his 1960 work the sound i saw, it being a handmade artist’s book that this time followed the jazz scene in New York City.

As with all of Supreme’s collaborations, the process of selecting who to work with or what to reference is second to none. Evidently, this is no exception. From establishing The Photographer’s Gallery in 1955 and running it until 1957, to joining the faculty of Hunter College in 1975, where he taught both undergraduate and MFA courses for decades and then becoming a Distinguished Professor of Art in 1988, DeCarava is a vanguard of photography and storytelling through the medium. 

Today, Supreme references his archival work on two T-shirts and a hoodie. The latter, available in five colors, features a rear print of Malcolm X that was taken in 1964. T-shirts, those too in a variety of hues, also include the Malcolm X photo, as well as another tee that depicts a signature work of DeCarava, it being stunningly simplistic, impactful, focused and subsequently intense. 

All profits from the Roy DeCarava collection will benefit the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. The Roy DeCarava x Supreme collection will drop on May 19 11 a.m. EDT in the United States, and elsewhere around the world, and finally on May 21, 11 a.m. JST in Japan, as per usual in stores and online. 

For more collaborative news, take a look at the Jacquemus x Nike teaser.
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