In 1986, Aperture first published Bruce Davidson’s Subway – a ground-breaking series that has garnered critical acclaim both as a document of a unique moment in the cultural fabric of New York City as well as for its phenomenal use of extremes of color and shadow set against flash-lit skin. In Davidson’s own words, “the people in the subway, their flesh juxtaposed against the graffiti, the penetrating effect of the strobe light itself, and even the hollow darkness of the tunnels, inspired an aesthetic that goes unnoticed by passengers who are trapped underground, hiding behind masks, and closed off from each other.”
In this edition of classic photographic literature, a sequence of 118 images move the viewer through a landscape at times menacing, and at other times lyrical, soulful, and satiric. The images include the full panoply of New Yorkers-from weary straphangers and languorous ladies in summer dresses to stalking predators and the homeless.
Davidson’s accompanying text tells the story behind the images, clarifying his method and dramatizing his experience. He details his obsession with the subway, its rhythms, and its particular madness. His naked prose, together with his compelling images, evoke the speeding sensation of a subway car, tunneling out of the darkness into a new light and unmistakable beauty.