Jefferson at Dearborn

Detroit After Dark: Photographs from the DIA Collection

October 21, 2016 – April 23, 2017

Detroit After Dark is a dramatic display of light and dark, a photography exhibition of works from the DIA's permanent collection. Detroit After Dark is free with general museum admission. General museum admission is free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Detroit After Dark includes architectural studies, street scenes and graffiti, as well as some of Detroit’s famous night haunts, like jazz club Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, the legendary Grande Ballroom, and punk and garage rock venues such as Bookie’s Club and the Gold Dollar. This exhibition is a survey of Detroit photographers documenting the night, both past and present, and also features photography from visiting artists to the city, such as Robert Frank's rarely seen City Hall, Detroit from 1955.

To contrast the quiet streets and dramatic buildings, Detroit After Dark also includes photos of notable musicians, night clubs and art galleries where groups often got their start, and where these musicians could perform for smaller, intimate audiences. Among them are Patti Smith & Fred Sonic Smith, New Miami Bar by Sue Rynski (1980); Leni Sinclair’s MC5 at the Grande Ballroom, Zenta New Year, October 31, 1968; Jack White and Meg White by Doug Coombe (1999); Steve Shaw’s The Gories, The Willis Gallery (1989); and Marcus Belgrave at Baker's Keyboard Lounge, Detroit (1992) by Marshall. The exhibition also includes a new series of Detroit hip hop musicians Awesome Dre, Guilty Simpson and Nick Speed, among others, who collaborated with photographer Jenny Risher to create dynamic portraits set against some of Detroit’s famous landmarks.

Some of the photographs allude to the city’s recent gentrification. For example, DeBoer’s 2014 Merchants Row, shows a view of the empty lot where the Hudson’s department store once stood, leaving Woodward Avenues’ Merchants Row fully visible. Jordano’s series Detroit Nocturne features city views telling a story of Detroit’s ongoing challenges in the historic preservation of buildings, as seen in Michigan Train Depot with New Windows and Electric Lights, Southwest Side, Detroit from 2016.

Additionally, a small supplement of work from Paris and New York taken between 1920 and 1960 will also be on view, helping establish Detroit’s place in the visual tradition or nighttime photography. 

A 112-page hardcover catalogue will be available with essays by Nancy Barr, DIA curator of Photography, Sara Blair, professor of English language and literature at University of Michigan, and Chris Tysh, a Detroit-based poet and senior lecturer at Wayne State University. The catalogue is published by the DIA and distributed by Yale University Press, and is $35.