20th Century America Through the Lens of Bruce Davidson

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For the better part of seven decades, photographer Bruce Davidson, now 85 years old, has been capturing America’s grittier side with an unflinching honesty. His portraits, often of fringe characters infrequently placed into the spotlight, feel candid and in-the-moment. Davidson captures his subjects in privileged moments—those brief seconds when a person allows their face to fall into its truest shape, convinced that no one is watching.

Now on display at Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York City, Bruce Davidson, Subject: Contact offers viewers a rare glimpse into the photographer’s editing process. The exhibition centers around four of Davidson’s seminal works taken during the 1950s and 1960s: Circus, Brooklyn Gang, Time of Change, and East 100th Street. Iconic images from each series are accompanied by contact sheets. The effect makes the photographer, so attune to the human condition, seem even more human himself. Bruce Davidson, Subject: Contact runs through June 15. Make sure you catch it.

Bruce Davidson, East 100th Street, 1966-68. Gelatin silver print; printed later. © Bruce Davidson, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery/Magnum Photos.

crowds gathered around reflecting pool in Washington DC

Bruce Davidson, Time of Change, 1963. Gelatin silver print; printed c.1963. © Bruce Davidson, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery/Magnum Photos.

woman sitting on bus while soldiers march alongside

Bruce Davidson, Time of Change, 1961. Gelatin silver print; printed c.1961. © Bruce Davidson, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery/Magnum Photos.

circus clown sitting in front seat of vehicle, smoking a cigarette

Bruce Davdison, Circus, 1958. Gelatin silver print; printed later. © Bruce Davidson, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery/Magnum Photos.

children outdoor smiling, looking at little person smoking, dressed as a police officer

Bruce Davdison, Circus, 1958. Gelatin silver print; printed c.1958. © Bruce Davidson, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery/Magnum Photos.

Bruce Davdison, The Dwarf, 1958. Gelatin silver print

Bruce Davdison, The Dwarf, 1958. Gelatin silver print; printed later. © Bruce Davidson, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery/Magnum Photos.

woman looking at mirror as man stand next to it fixing his sleeves

Bruce Davidson, Brooklyn Gang, 1959. Gelatin silver print; printed c.1965. © Bruce Davidson, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery/Magnum Photos.

woman and man smiling and touching foreheads and man leaning arm and head on same woman's back

Bruce Davidson, Brooklyn Gang, 1959. Gelatin silver print; printed c.1959. © Bruce Davidson, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery/Magnum Photos.

Header image: Bruce Davidson, East 100th Street, 1966. Gelatin silver print; printed c.1966. © Bruce Davidson, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery/Magnum Photos.

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