A Beautiful Catastrophe • Bruce Gilden • Magnum Photos

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Arts & Culture

A Beautiful Catastrophe

New York Photographer Bruce Gilden captures frank and evocative portraits of the patrons of the Big Apple

Bruce Gilden

Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe Man, dog, cart. New York City, USA. 1989. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe Blind woman guided through 57th Street. New York City, USA. 1992. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe New York City, USA. 1996. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe Man walking in Wall Street area. New York City, USA. September 17, 2001. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe New York City, USA. 1986. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe New York City, USA. 1984. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe New York City, USA. 1990. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe New York City, USA. 1986. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe New York City, USA. 1984. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe Woman on Easter Sunday. New York City, USA. 1995. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe Fifth Avenue, New York City, USA.1995. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe Businessman on Fifth Avenue, New York City, USA. 1993. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe Fifth Avenue, New York City, USA. 1984. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe Feast of San Gennero, Little Italy, New York City, USA. 1989. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe New York City, USA. 1986. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden | A Beautiful Catastrophe New York City, USA. 1988. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos

The title to Bruce Gilden’s book A Beautiful Catastrophe  is taken from a statement made by Le Corbusier about New York City, in which he called the metropolis “a beautiful catastrophe”.

Gilden grew up in Brooklyn, making him no stranger to the city’s multi-faceted nature. His photographs are of the street poet variety with his images laid out in a stream-of-consciousness-type manner. Though the sequencing follows no particular, identifiable rhythm, they reflect the meandering eye of their maker.

Scattered throughout the book are apt, canny quotes, including Russell Baker (“New York is the only city in the world where you can get deliberately run down on the sidewalk by a pedestrian”); or from the Barnard College Bulletin (“The only real advantage of New York is that all its inhabitants ascend to heaven right after their deaths, having served their full term in hell right on Manhattan Island”). The photographs, made on the streets, at all times of day, reveal the human zoo that is New York.