Bruce Davidson: Subway

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Bruce Davidson: Subway

Bruce Davidson: Subway

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Existing beneath a city defined by its diversity and promise of opportunity, the subway appears as a microcosm of this sprawling urban metropolis: a democratizing realm where individuals from all walks of life sit side by side in a setting as frantic and unruly as the streets above. As I went down the subway stairs, through the turnstile, and onto the darkened station platform, a sinking sense of fear gripped me. Essentially, Davidson's images manage to hark back to a forgotten New York City, while simultaneously tapping into a contemporary sense of why New York, with all is attitudes, is still seen to be one of the globe's most vibrant and happening urban cities.

Bruce Davidson (born 1933) is considered one of America's most influential documentary photographers. Book is a first edition and dust jacket has a small rub and tear on the upper front corner, otherwise there is slight rubbing to the dust jacket. Here, the enclosed world of the subway is a metaphor for New York itself, in all its frantic hustle and bustle its violence, its humanity and its hope. In 1986, Aperture first published Bruce Davidson’s Subway – a ground-breaking series that has garnered critical acclaim both as a document of a unique moment in the cultural fabric of New York City as well as for its phenomenal use of extremes of color and shadow set against flash-lit skin. Color photography was not new for me – most of my commissioned work and all of my films have been done in color.Here, the enclosed world of the subway is a metaphor for New York itself, in all its frantic hustle and bustle--its violence, its humanity and its hope. Davidson got his first assignment in 1961 to photograph high fashion for Vogue and the New York Times Freedom Riders in the south. Davidson started playing at being a detective, channeling the idea in the subway that he was untouchable.

Other times, the moment would be too perfect and Davidson would photograph without permission, explaining himself after the image was safely imprinted on his film. Davidson took snaps of lonely windows, vagrant winos, and solemn old men sitting on the benches on concrete islands of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I began to imagine that these signatures surrounding the passengers were ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Davidson continues to create classic bodies of work from his 50-year career that have been extensively published in monographs and are included in all the major public and private fine art collections around the world.

Davidson's first extensive series in color, his exploratoin into the dark grafitti-filled New York subway perfectly complements his portrayal of the everyday human condition. Also, just for precautionary measure, he wanted to be in good shape if something went wrong down there in the underground. Dustjacket wonderful fresh with slightest trace of use, but with no tears, no missing parts and no remarkable flaws or defects. I photographed the people I had known there, survivors from the war and the death camps who had clung together after the Holocaust to re-root themselves in this strange land.

Asked about his perspective on the subway as it exists now and how it has changed, Davidson replies: “Of course you have to be aware of not standing too close to the platform and things of that nature to avoid catastrophe. Carrying with him a small, white, golf-trimmed wedding album filled with examples of his Subway work, on requesting to take someone’s picture, he would often bring this out to convince the subject of his intentions. Sometimes, I’d take the picture, then apologize, explaining that the mood was so stunning I couldn’t break it, and hoped they didn’t mind.One day I spotted this young man on the subway train at Coney Island who absorbed so much bright sun he appeared to be radiant. A woman named Kathy, staring at herself in a cigarette machine in one of his most famous photographs, shot herself with a shotgun.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
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