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Bruce Davidson: Subway

by Arthur Ollman

ISBN 097136818X / 9780971368187 / 0-9713681-8-X
Publisher St. Ann's Press
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

Since ground was first broken, New York City's subway system has been the stuff of living legend--and a source of inspiration and fear. This dark, democratic environment provided the setting for photographer Bruce Davidson's first extensive series in color, originally published in 1986. In it, subway riders are set against a gritty, graffiti-strewn background, displayed in tones Davidson described as "an iridescence like what I had seen in photographs of deep-sea fish." Never before had the subway been portrayed in such detail, revealing the interplay of its inner landscape and outer vistas. The images include lovers, commuters, tourists, families, and the homeless. From weary strap hangers to languorous ladies in summer dresses to stalking predators, Davidson's compassionate vision illuminates the stubborn survival of humanity. From the spring of 1980 to 1985, Davidson explored and shot 600 miles of subway tracks. In his own words, he "wanted to transform this subway from its dark, degrading, and impersonal reality into images that open up our experience again to the color, sensuality, and vitality of the individual souls that ride it each day." Now nearly 25 years later, and on the eve of the subway's 100th anniversary, St. Ann's Press is publishing a new edition of Davidson's classic book. This edition adds 43 unseen images to the original book, and includes an introduction by Arthur Ollman of the Museum of Photographic Art in San Diego, and a foreword by Fred Braithwaite (aka Fab Five Freddy), the original graffiti artist. It also includes Bruce Davidson and Henry Geldzahler's original essays. [via]