Description

They were young, poor and reckless but the very embodiment of 1950s cool. Taken in the hot New York summer of 1959, Bruce Davidson’s classic essay Brooklyn Gang, New York, infiltrates a close-knit group of teenagers as they sunbathed, smoked and bloodied each other up. Connecting with a social worker to make initial contact with the gang who called themselves The Jokers, Davidson became a daily observer and photographer of this alienated youth culture.

Most of my pictures are compassionate, gentle and personal. They tend to let the viewer see for himself. They tend not to preach. And they tend not to pose as art.

Bruce Davidson
© Bruce Davidson | Magnum Photos

Bruce Davidson began taking photographs at the age of 10 in his home of Oak Park, Illinois. While attending Rochester Institute of Technology and Yale University, he continued to further his knowledge and interest in the medium. When he left military service in 1957, Davidson worked as a freelance photographer for LIFE magazine and in 1958 became a full member of Magnum.

From 1958 to 1961 he created such seminal bodies of work as The Dwarf, Brooklyn Gang, and Freedom Rides. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1962 and created a profound documentation of the civil rights movement in America. Five years later, he received the first grant for photography from the National Endowment for the Arts, having spent two years witnessing the dire social conditions on one block in East Harlem.

Classic bodies of work from his 50-year career have been extensively published in monographs and are included in many major public and private fine art collections around the world. He continues to photograph and produce new bodies of work.

© Bruce Davidson

Get Magnum news and updates directly to your inbox

Stay in touch
Stay up to date every Thursday with Magnum photographers’ activities, new work, stories published on the Magnum website, and the latest offerings from our shop.
Be the first to know about recent Magnum Shop drops. From new books and limited editions, to special offers, you can find it all on the weekly Magnum Shop newsletter.
Get fortnightly tips and advice articles, find out about the latest workshops, free online events and on-demand courses.
Learn about online and offline exhibitions, photography fairs, gallery events, plus fine print news and activities, on a monthly basis.
Know when our quarterly 7-day square print sale is coming.
Monthly updates on the latest assignments, photographer projects and collaborations with brands.