San Francisco, CA
Bruce Davidson (American, b. 1933) is one of the most influential photographers of the last half century. Working in both color and black and white, Davidson has documented subjects ranging from the civil rights movement to the urban grit of Harlem and the New York subway system. This exhibition presents a selection of 42 photographs and celebrates important gifts of vintage prints that will be exhibited for the first time since their acquisition in 2013.
Davidson is known for his humanist outlook and a desire to engage directly with his subject matter, approaches that owe much to his early artistic influences in photography, including Robert Frank, W. Eugene Smith, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Davidson’s projects include The Dwarf (1958), Brooklyn Gang (1959), and Time of Change (1961–1965), the latter of which chronicles the events and effects of the civil rights movement in both the North and the South. In East 100th Street (1970), he documented a conspicuously poverty-stricken block in East Harlem over the course of two years. Davidson followed this with Subway (1980), and in 1998 he returned to East 100th Street to document the revitalization, renewal, and changes in the neighborhood that occurred since he had last photographed the neighborhood. All of these significant series are represented in Bruce Davidson: Gifts to the Collection.
Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, Bruce Davidson: Subway presents one of the series in the exhibition, acclaimed both as a documentation of a unique moment in the cultural fabric of New York City and for its phenomenal use of extremes of color and shadow set against flash-lit skin. Davidson's accompanying text tells the story behind the images, clarifying his method and dramatizing his obsession with the subway, its rhythms and its particular madness. Bruce Davidson: East 100Th Street, another of the series in the exhibition, demonstrates Davidson's skill, his extraordinary vision, and his deep respect for his subjects; this portrait of the people of East 100th Street is a powerful statement of the dignity and humanity that is in all people. And Brooklyn Gang: Summer 1959, another of the series in the exhibition, explores how, in 1959, Davidson became a daily observer and photographer of this alienated youth culture