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 Selected by the acclaimed photographer from his vast archive, the exhibition will present previously unpublished work dating from 1957-1977.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 Civil rights 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.

“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,” writes Paul Roth, Director, The Image Centre at Toronto Metropolitan University, about Bruce Davidson in the introduction to the book.

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. And we recognize a vision, a perspective, a way of looking at the world.

(Paul Roth)

From the beginning of his career, Davidson endeavored to document his subjects in depth and over time. Nearing the age of 90, the celebrated photographer took the editing of these works as a personal challenge. He looked over his career with a fresh eye, revisiting his photographs and the people and places in them, thus expanding the stories he documented, deepening his reportage, and enriching a legacy replete with empathy and heart.

Unlike many of his peers, who photographed the events that constitute history, Davidson has always brought his focus to the people caught up in those histories. Looking out of the frame, into the camera, as so many of them do, we understand their relationship not only to the time they lived in, but ultimately even to us, in the present moment.

(Paul Roth)

Bruce Davidson, with a career spanning more than 60 years, is one of America’s most distinguished photographers. Born in 1933 in Oak Park, Illinois, he began taking photographs at the age of ten. He attended Rochester Institute of Technology and Yale University, where he studied with artist Josef Albers and Alexey Brodovitch, best-known for his art direction at Harper’s Bazaar. Davidson was later drafted into the army and stationed near Paris where he met Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the founders of the renowned cooperative photography agency Magnum Photos.

After his military service, Davidson worked as a freelance photographer for Life magazine and in 1959 became a member of Magnum, producing photo essays that would leave a lasting mark. In 1963, the Museum of Modern Art in New York presented his early work in a solo exhibition, the first of several. Upon completion of a body of work on the American Civil Rights Movement, he received the first grant for photography from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work has been exhibited at major institutions including The Museum of Modern Art and the International Center of Photography in New York, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. He has received many grants, awards, and fellowships in addition to an honorary doctorate in fine arts from the Corcoran School of Art and Design. His photographs have appeared in numerous publications, and his work is the subject of many books, including Bruce Davidson: The Way Back, which will be published by Steidl in 2023. He lives in New York City.