May 28–August 28, 2016: Casa Garriga i Nogués Exhibition Hall, Diputació 250, Barcelona – Spain

Bruce Davidson (born Chicago, 1933) considers himself a humanist photographer, with a philosophy of life based on his particular relationship with reality. This can be considered the fundamental theme behind a body of work that constitutes an interaction between the world and the photographer and which reveals his perception of reality, his intentions and his value system. It is the defining element behind Bruce Davidson’s work, rather than his style or the specific subjects that he depicts. The present exhibition surveys more than 50 years of his output, and while the choice of techniques, processes, subjects and uses of his photography are numerous and various, its unity and coherence spring from the continuity of Davidson’s world view and from his ethical commitment to the precarious, vulnerable environments in which his subjects lived out their daily lives.

The decades encompassed by this exhibition were as intense for American photography as they were for the history of the country itself and, as a result of its force and power of visual penetration, Davidson’s work has become part of the iconography of his times. Even today it remains an ongoing source of inspiration for subsequent generations. The strength of Davidson’s art lies in the accumulation that arises from reiteration and in the juxtaposition of images which gradually shape the world of his subjects. We share with them a closeness which is only made possible through the charismatic presence of Davidson, who won their trust and was able to enter into their lives with remarkable ease, even with regard to his most conflict-ridden subjects. The surprisingly natural way in which these individuals present themselves reflects this cooperation and mutual commitment: a process of quest and discovery by the artist of which we are privileged spectators. Davidson never takes a photograph without asking permission beforehand; he may enter into his subjects’ private lives but never in an intrusive way and always with prior agreement.

Davidson pays attention to detail and he never descends into sentimental, moralising or overly compassionate excess or adds dramatic effect; his poetic gaze unaffectedly describes the essential issues that have shaped his life: the sometimes marginal environments which were almost absent from the American visual culture of the 1950s and which a few photographers started to make visible through their particular interpretations. The history of his country is built upon images and some of the photographic icons that are essential to a proper understanding of American history and society are shown in this exhibition. These are stories that Davidson lived through his photographs, and they remain there, suspended as an invocation of the expectations and also of the failures of the American dream.

The exhibition and its international touring has been supported by Fundación MAPFRE and TERRA Foundation for American Art.