Typically with many photographers, only very select images are seen by the public for marketing and business reasons. Sure, the images are important contributions to the arts — so whatever happens to the images that we never see? It’s a question we often ask photographers in our interviews, and photographer Bruce Davidson is showing the world several other photos we haven’t glimpsed before. At the Howard Greenburg Gallery, passionate photographers will be able to visit Bruce Davidson: The Way Back and experience the printed images in person until September 16th, 2023.
All images are by Bruce Davidson and used with permission by the press relations team at the Howard Greenburg Gallery. You can visit Bruce Davidson: The Way Back from June 22nd to September 16th, 2023.
“I went through many contact sheets from the late 1950s to the present day, and by doing that, I was able to re-connect with the emotional quality of what I was looking at when I took those photographs,” says Bruce in a statement to the press. “Now, with the perspective of time, I say to myself, oh, that image was really great. I didn’t have the guts to print it before, but I should have.” It’s a statement that many modern photographers perhaps take with as much seriousness as a photographer that worked extra hard to make every single frame count.
The images, upon inspection, don’t really have any sort of common theme aside from being black-and-white street photographs. If you didn’t previously know, you might not have guessed that Bruce shot them. They’re a stark contrast from what we’ve known the Magnum Photographer to do. Perhaps that’s one of the best things about this — that there’s a discovery of all this classically cool work that Mr. Davidson has created. Though it begs the question as to why he wasn’t confident enough to print this work previously. The answer to that question is in a quote he previously provided.
“I stand to the side respectfully until I am invited in,” Davidson has said. “There is a lot of patience and stillness in the making of a photograph.”Bruce Davidson
If you compare this approach to that of many other street photographers who follow more in the steps of Bruce Gilden and Garry Winogrand, it’s a major juxtaposition not only in the approach but also in the resulting images. To understand this mentality further, one should truly watch Bruce talk about his photographs.
The press release from Howard Greenburg states that Bruce worked hard to document his subjects in depth and over time. “He took the editing of these works as a personal challenge,” it states. “He looked over his career with a fresh eye, revisiting his photographs and the people and places in them.” Yet, in these photos, we more or less see what we think of as fleeting moments captured on a celluloid process.
“His best work is characterized by detailed observation revealing the complexities of distinct individuals, their beliefs, the communities where they live, and the subcultures they belong to,” says Paul Roth, Director, The Image Centre at Toronto Metropolitan University, about Bruce Davidson. “At the same time, despite the freshness of these unseen images, they are familiar. We know some of these people; they inhabit a world we remember seeing before.” Roth continues to state rather subjectively that we recognize the vision and perspective. Yet to others, the work is bound to be a pleasant surprise.