2011 Benefit and Auction Spotlight: Honoree Bruce Davidson

Boys at the Lake, Central Park, 1992 © Bruce Davidson/Howard Greenberg Gallery

Benefit Honoree Bruce Davidson‘s photograph Boys at the Lake, Central Park is one of the many exciting items up for auction at this year’s Benefit. The black and white image depicts four boys climbing on overhanging branches, starkly silhouetted against the Manhattan skyline. The photographer writes, of the image, “I discovered these young children swinging on low branches of trees over the lake. They seemed very free to me and comfortable as I made a few panoramic exposures. I thanked them and continued walking along.”

“The layers of life are very deep within Central Park, and no one will ever finish photographing Central Park. […] I used a panoramic camera with a rotating drum scan for much of the work in the park because Olmstead saw the park as a proscenium that moved, like during a carriage ride, or strolling, so I needed that 150 degree view.”

Bruce Davidson (born in Oak Park, Illinois, 1933) is considered one of America’s most influential photographers. He began taking photographs when he was ten, and studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Yale University School of Design. In 1958 he became a member of Magnum Photos, and in 1961 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to document the civil rights movement. After a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1966, followed by a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1967, Davidson spent two years photographing one block in East Harlem, resulting in East 100th Street. A solo exhibition of this work was curated by John Szarkowski for the Museum of Modern Art in 1970. In 1980, after living in New York City for twenty-three years, Davidson began his startling color series of urban life in Subway. Davidson received a second National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1980, and an Open Society Institute Individual Fellowship in 1998. He received this year an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the Corcoran College of Art and Design. His work has been shown at the International Center of Photography, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Museum Reattu, Arles, France; Burden Gallery (Aperture), New York; Parco Gallery, Tokyo; and New-York Historical Society.

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Click here to see Bruce Davidson’s new edition of his classic book Subway, to be published by Aperture this Fall