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.