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Bruce Davidson

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Bruce Davidson
American Photographer
(Oak Park, Illinois, 1933 - )

A pioneer of social photography, Bruce Davidson’s work is unafraid to address the deepest anxieties, romances, and dreams of modern American life. After attending Rochester Institute of Technology and Yale University, Davidson’s military service took him to Paris in 1958, where he would become a correspondent for Life Magazine and meet Henri Cartier-Bresson, renowned photographer and co-creator of Davidson’s future agency, Magnum Photos. With Magnum, he began to develop his signature focus on subjects isolated from the comforts of exclusionary cosmopolitan societies. It would not be until 1967, however, that Davidson created perhaps his most impactful work: an unflinching profile of the resistance and triumphs of the Freedom Riders throughout the Civil Rights Movement. Taking him across the United States and abroad, Davidson’s profiles of courage helped propel the movement and its figures to the forefront of the American arts, leading him to be awarded the National Endowment of the Arts’ first grant for photography in 1967. Since then, Davidson has perfected the art of locating the obscured injustices of urban life through his images, exhibiting in the Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian, and New Orleans Museum of Art, among many others. Although intimate, complex, and often disquieting, his photographs remain focused on the lived experiences of their subjects, rather than the artist’s response to them. The result is a prolific body of work, perhaps best summarized by Davidson’s own description of his creative process to the New York Times: “I was a shadow”. Mr. Davidson currently resides in New York City.

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