Bruce Davidson: The Way Back will be on view at Howard Greenberg Gallery from June 22 through September 16, 2023. Selected by the acclaimed photographer from his vast archive, the exhibition will present previously unpublished work dating from 1957-1977. The photographs represent the arc of Davidson’s versatile career with individual images that were overlooked at the time. Some are from Davidson’s most well-known series—East 100th Street, a look at one Harlem block in 1966-68; Brooklyn Gang, which followed a group of teenagers in the summer of 1959; Time of Change, his Civilrights photographs from 1961-65; and Subway, a look at life on the trains from 1977. Other works, in the streets of New York, the markets of Mexico, or the wilds of Yosemite, stand apart from those series though remain characterized by a creative practice rooted in humanism. The works in the exhibition are drawn from a new book, Bruce Davidson: The Way Back, to be published by Steidl in 2023.
After the financial crisis of the 1970’s decimated New York City’s public programs and infrastructure, the subway in particular was arguably at its nadir in terms of maintenance, upkeep, and crime as the decade came to a close. It was precisely at this moment, however, that Bruce Davidson began photographing it in a sustained and systematic way. The subway he traversed then, from the Bronx down to Coney Island and Rockaway Beach, seems a distant image from the one we ride today. Howard Greenberg and Bruce Davidson sat down recently over Zoom to discuss Davidson’s now-classic project “Subway”. The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Howard Greenberg Gallery will open its doors to the exhibition, Bruce Davidson, Subject: Contact ~ contact sheets in context with vintage prints from four seminal projects from the 1950s and 60s ~ Circus, Brooklyn Gang, Time of Change, and East 100th Street. The exhibition illustrates Davidson’s connection to some of the 20th century’s most important social, cultural, and political moments.