Davidson, Bruce 1933-

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Davidson, Bruce 1933-


Born September 5, 1933, in Chicago, IL; married Emily Haas, 1967; children: Jenny, Anna. Education: Studied at Rochester Institute of Technology, 1951-54, and Yale University, 1955.


Home—New York, NY. Office—Magnum Photos, 251 Park Ave. S., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected].


Photographer. Al Cox Photography, Oak Park, IL, photographer apprentice, 1947; Eastman Kodak, Rochester, NY, dark-room technician, 1954-55; freelance photographer, 1958—; Magnum Photos Co-operative Agency, New York, NY, and Paris, France, photographer, 1958—. Also conducts private photography workshops; Life magazine program for young photographers, New York, NY, photographer, 1958; School of Visual Arts, New York, NY, iInstructor in photography, 1964; director of short films, including Living off the Land and Isaac Singer's Nightmare and Mrs. Pupko's Beard, both 1972.

Exhibitions: "12 Photographers of the American Social Landscape: Bruce Davidson," Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, January 9-February 12, 1967; "Three Views of the North American Landscape: Bruce Davidson, Photographs 1958-1976, Jerry N. Uelsmann, Recent Photographs, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Photographs from Apollo, E.R.T.S., Landsat and Skylab Missions," Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, October 8-November 21, 1976. Solo exhibitions include Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 1965; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 1966; Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1970; San Francisco Museum of Art, 1971; Galerie Delpire, Paris, 1979; Douglas Kenyon Gallery, 1982. Work exhibited at Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY; Yale University, New Haven, CT; Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; Carpenter Center and Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE; Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Museum Ludwig Köln, Köln, Germany; and the Smithsonian, Washington, DC. Military service: U.S. Army, 1955-57, served in Georgia, Arizona, and France.


Guggenheim Fellowship, 1962; National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1967, 1970; American Film Institute grant, 1970, 1972; and American Film Institute, Critics Prize, 1971, for Living off the Land; American Film Institute, First Prize in Fiction, 1973, for Isaac Singer's Nightmare and Mrs. Pupko's Beard; Open Society Institute Individual Fellowship, 1998; Lucie Award, 2004, for outstanding achievement in documentary photography; National Arts Club, Gold Medal Visual Arts Award, 2007.



(Illustrator) Talcot Parsons, The Negro American, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1966.

(Photographer) Toward a Social Landscape by Bruce Davidson, edited by Nathan Lyons, Horizon Press (New York, NY), 1967.

East 100th Street, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1970, St. Ann's Press, 2003.

(Photographer) Carol Hill, Subsistence U.S.A., Holt, Rinehart & Winston (New York, NY), 1973.

Bruce Davidson Photographs, introduction by Henry Geldzahler, Agrinde (New York, NY), 1978.

Welsh Miners, Douglas Kenyon (Chicago, IL), 1982.

Bruce Davidson, Centre National de la Photographie (Paris, France), 1984, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 1986.

(And author of text) Subway, afterword by Henry Geldzahler, Aperture (New York, NY), 1986, St. Ann's Press, 2004.

Central Park, preface by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, commentary by Marie Winn, Aperture (New York, NY), 1995.

(With Emily Haas) Brooklyn Gang, Twin Palms (Santa Fe, NM), 1998.

Bruce Davidson: Portraits, Aperture (New York, NY), 1999.

Time of Change: Civil Rights Photographs, 1961-1965, foreword by John Lewis, essay by Deborah Willis, St. Ann's Press, 2002.

(Photographer) Gay Talese, The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Walker 2003.

(Photographer) Isaac Bashevis Singer, Isaac Bashevis Singer and the Lower East Side, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 2004.

Bruce Davidson: England and Scotland, 1960, introduction by Alan Sillitoe, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2004.

(Photographer) Peter Boyer, Bruce Davidson: Circus, Steidl The Masters, 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Life, Réalités, Du, Esquire, Queen, Look, and Vogue. Contributor to books, including Popular Photography, 1962.


Bruce Davidson is an award-winning photographer who is best known for his depictions of poverty and adversity in American life. Davidson got his start in photography at the age of ten as the apprentice of Oak Park, IL, photographer Al Cox. By the age of sixteen, he had already received national recognition for his work. This was enough to get him into the Rochester Institute of Technology and Yale University. In 1955 he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served a stint in France, where he met Henri Cartier-Bresson. This meeting ultimately led to his joining the exclusive Magnum Photos agency. In addition to his work at Magnum, he freelanced his photographic skills and was published in a variety of periodicals, including Life, Réalités, Du, Esquire, Queen, Look, and Vogue. Since the 1960s Davidson's photographs have appeared in numerous periodicals, exhibitions, and books of his own design. His skill in doing so was rewarded with a Lucie Award for outstanding achievement in documentary photography in 2004 and a National Arts Club Gold Medal Visual Arts Award in 2007.

One of Davidson's groundbreaking collections of photographs is Brooklyn Gang, published in 1998. The photographs were put on display in a solo exhibit at the International Center of Photography in New York and the Rose Gallery in California. Taken in 1959, the images depict lives of a teenage street gang in Brooklyn, NY. While the teenage subjects are living tough lives, their tattoos and hairstyles make wordless statements that show they are not too different from the average teenager of the late 1950s. William V. Ganis, writing in Art in America, found that "Davidson masterfully captures pregnant moments within pleasing, formally perfect compositions." Writing in Booklist, Raul Nino called the collection "a fine jewel for the eyes," adding: "Davidson's camera seems to have captured something essential that time has not diminished."

Davidson captured one of the most gripping periods in U.S. history in his 2002 publication, Time of Change: Civil Rights Photographs, 1961-1965. From 1961 onward, Davidson recorded the history of the Civil Rights Movement through his camera lens, including images of the marches and freedom rides, voter registration campaigns, police brutality, and social aspects of life throughout these times. The images are caption free, letting the photographs speak for themselves. This means that the pictures' "historical importance," noted Ray Olson in a Booklist review, "is never upstaged by their artfulness, which is as it should be." A contributor to the Black Issues Book Review found that the "engaging images strike a chord somewhere deep beneath the surface of the skin." Matt Claus, writing in Esquire, commented that Time of Change is "flat-out the best photography book about the civil-rights movement."



Contemporary Photographers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.


Art in America, July 1, 1999, William V. Ganis, review of Brooklyn Gang, p. 94.

Black Issues Book Review, November-December, 2002, review of Time of Change: Civil Rights Photographs, 1961-1965, p. 14.

Booklist, February 1, 1996, Brad Hooper, review of Central Park, p. 910; April 15, 1999, Raul Nino, review of Brooklyn Gang, p. 1499; December 15, 1999, Ray Olson, review of Bruce Davidson: Portraits, p. 747; October 15, 2002, Ray Olson, review of Time of Change, p. 372.

Esquire, October 1, 2002, Matt Claus, review of Time of Change, p. 40.

Guardian (London, England), January 4, 2007, "Bruce Davidson's Best Shot."

Library Journal, April 1, 1999, David Bryant, review of Brooklyn Gang, p. 90; April 1, 2006, Raymond Bial, review of Bruce Davidson: England and Scotland, 1960, p. 90.

Life, April 15, 2000, "Portrait," p. 68.

New York Times Book Review, December 8, 2002, Andy Grundberg, review of Time of Change, p. 29.

People, January 26, 1987, Eric Levin, review of Subway, p. 18.

Smithsonian, June 1, 2004, Paul Maliszewski, "Off the Beaten Track: During a Civil Rights March in 1965," p. 25.

Washington Post, Frank Van Riper, "Bruce Davidson's Powerful ‘Time of Change.’"


Art Department Web site,http://www.art-dept.com/ (May 9, 2007), author profile.

Magnum Photos Web site,http://www.magnumphotos.com/ (May 9, 2007), author profile.

NNDB,http://www.nndb.com/ (May 9, 2007), author profile.

Soulcatcher Studio Web site,http://www.soulcatcherstudio.com/ (May 9, 2007), author profile.

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