Bruce Davidson began photography at the age of ten in Oak Park, Illinois. He attended the Rochester Institute of Technology and Yale University and was later drafted into the army and stationed near Paris where he met Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the four founders of the renowned international cooperative photo agency, Magnum Photos. After military service, in 1957, Davidson worked as a freelance photographer for Life Magazine and in 1958 became a full member of Magnum Photos.
From 1958 to 1961 he created such seminal bodies of work as The Dwarf, Brooklyn Gang, and the Freedom Rides. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1962 to photograph what became a profound documentation of the Civil Rights Movement in America. In 1963 the Museum of Modern Art in New York presented his work in a solo show. In 1966 he was awarded the first grant for photography from the National Endowment for the Arts, and spent two years bearing witness to the dire social conditions on one block in East Harlem. This work was published by Harvard University Press in 1970 under the title East 100th Street and was later republished and expanded by St. Ann’s Press. The work became an exhibition that same year at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
In 1980 he captured the vitality of the New York Metro’s underworld that was later published in his book Subway and exhibited at the International Center for Photography in 1982. In 1995 he photographed the landscape and layers of life of Central Park. 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.
“Go back into the subway and look beyond the graffiti. Lift up your heads and look around, see what Bruce has revealed – the beauty in the subway population, the enormous amount of colour below and above ground, the varieties and pleasures to be seen from the subway. The shrill insistence of the noise in our ears and of the graffiti to our eyes does not end the catalogue of effects the subway has on our senses. Bruce Davidson has reopened and rewritten that catalogue with this magnificent series of photographs. Light, colour, humanity, affection, and hope can be added to our impressions of the New York subway system.” Henry Geldzahler
In 1980 Bruce Davidson began photographing the New York subway system, venturing regularly into this intoxicating, sometimes dangerous subterranean world. At first Davidson photographed in black and white, but he soon realised colour was necessary to depict the intensity of this graffiti-covered landscape. Originally published in 1986, this updated Steidl edition of Subway is printed from new scans of Davidson’s Kodachrome slides and features additional images.