SubwayPhotographs by Bruce Davidson
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In 1986, Aperture first published Bruce Davidson’s Subway—which has garnered critical acclaim both as a document of a unique moment in the cultural fabric of New York City, and 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 third edition, a sequence of 118 images (twenty-five never-before-published) move the viewer through a landscape at times menacing, at others lyrical, soulful, and satiric. They depict the full panoply of New Yorkers—weary straphangers, languorous ladies, stalking predators, the homeless.
Davidson’s text tells the story behind the images, detailing 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 new light and unmistakable beauty.
Bruce Davidson (born in Oak Park, Illinois, 1933) is among America’s most influential documentary photographers. He became a member of Magnum Photos in 1958; received a Guggenheim Fellowship to document the civil rights movement in 1962; and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in 1962 and 1980, when he began his startling color essay Subway. His work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museum de Tokyo, Paris; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; and the Aperture Gallery, New York.