SAVANNAH, GA.- Telfair Museums
announces the acquisition of 347 photographs by photographer Bruce Davidson (American, B. 1933). This anonymous gift is a transformational addition to the museums permanent collection by a world-renowned photographer whose work is in significant museum collections across the world, including at the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, and MoMA, among others.
The collection spans Davidsons career from 1956 to 2008 and includes images from his most well-known series including Circus (1958), Brooklyn Gang (1959), Time of Change (1961-1965), East 100th Street (1970), a study of poverty and discrimination in Harlem, and Subway (1980), an essay on a particular American subculture.
Davidson is a prolific photographer recognized for his humanistic portrayals of all walks of life. Erin Dunn, Assistant Curator at Telfair Museums has curated Telfairs photography collection since 2014 and says, History and human nature are deftly revealed through the empathetic eye of Bruce Davidson. This momentous gift not only allows us to revel in the individual photographs of Davidson, but to appreciate his entire careers worth of noteworthy subjects and imagery. The photographs stand on their own, but will also complement themes and subject matters already evident in Telfair Museums permanent collection.
Photography plays a prominent role in Telfairs robust schedule of annual exhibitions, and in recent years the museum has also traveled photography exhibitions drawn from its permanent collection to museums in New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Wisconsin. It is difficult to overstate the impact that this gift will have on Telfairs photography collection, says Courtney McNeil, Chief Curator & Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs at Telfair Museums. The foundation of the museums photography collection is one of the countrys largest collections of work by New York street photographer Helen Levitt, and Davidsons work has many rich thematic parallels to that body of work.
Born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1933, Davidson became interested in photography at age 10. He attended the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Yale University School of Design in pursuit of the art. He worked for LIFE magazine in 1957 and then joined Magnum, a photo agency founded by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, George Rodger, and Chim (David Seymour). At 24, Davidson was the youngest member of the renowned cooperative. His early work is defined by intensive photographic studies of often-isolated individuals and groups. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship to photograph the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and was awarded the first photography grant by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1967. While most of his work is in black-and-white, Davidson made in-depth color studies of various subjects including the New York City subway in the early 1980s. His work has been published in The New York Times, Time magazine, LIFE, Vogue, and Esquire, and he has exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Walker Art Center, among others. Davidson was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Center of Photography in 2018. He currently lives and works in New York City.