Bruce Davidson – Subway

Bruce Davidson - Subway - Surface and SurfaceI went to see the Arnold Newman exhibition at the C/O in Berlin last weekend.  It was pretty mind-blowing to see what he achieved but what I didn’t expect to see was the Bruce Davidson ‘Subway’ exhibition that was on in the gym room.  Bloody great urban photography.  Bruce immersed himself in the ‘raging, rattling hustle and bustle’ of the subway system in New York during the 1980s, documenting the passengers in this filthy, graffiti ridden melting-pot, photographing lovers, musicians, homeless people, tourists and business people.

“When you are in the Subway, what is beautiful appears bestial and what is bestial appears beautiful.” Bruce Davidson

The exhibition marks the 25th year since the first publication of Bruce Davidson’s ‘Subway’ and is one show until the 20th of May 2012.  If you’re in Berlin definitely recommend seeing this.  ‘The Art and Press’ over in Martin Gropius Bau is worth checking out to if you’re in the neighborhood.

Bruce Davidson - Subway - Surface and Surface

Bruce Davidson - Subway - Surface and Surface

Bruce Davidson - Subway - Surface and Surface

Bruce Davidson - Subway - Surface and Surface

Bruce Davidson - Subway - Surface and Surface

Bruce Davidson - Subway - Surface and Surface

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  1. Carlie Chew said:

    Thanks for sharing! I hadn’t seen Bruce Davidson’s subway shots before. They’re amazing, just like all of his work. He was very talented at capturing people.

  2. If I didnt know from the beginning of the post, I would have thought those pics were taken in NYC. Great shots!

  3. I’ve been meaning to go to this exhibition for a while now. It has just climbed a fair way up my to do list.

  4. vmvasquez said:

    I saw this show as well during my visit to Berlin. Great show!

  5. Definitely evocative — very interesting images that tell a story!

  6. I love these pics. I can almost smell the funky aroma that riding the train has to offer.

  7. platformpieces said:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I love the top pic and the penultimate one!

  8. Stirring and wonderful images – I just want to say congrats for being freshly pressed today. This was my first time in that club and want to shout out to all of you who share this great day with me.

  9. I love these shots. They bring life to the city and those that live there, bumping against their pasts and fighting for their own little space and swag. Love it.

  10. This post gave me nostgalia. I’m a 80’s baby from New York and can’t wait to hop back on the train. One of my favorite hobbies is people watching on the train. It gives me blog ideas. LOL…

  11. JPanda said:

    These are very interesting shots! more than just a snapshot… they seem to have a story of their own! impressive work!

  12. This urban photography, “Subway”, is definitely unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Love it! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Reblogged this on HECHO en las AMERICAS and commented:
    I’ve been fascinated of late with early 80s New York. Maybe it’s because my car doesn’t have a cd player and the only cassette tape I have is a 30 year old Ramones mix. Either way, love these photos by Bruce Davidson.

  14. Shady Company O-O said:

    I fancy this post, oh so much!

  15. irsanadenz said:

    very nice shots , nice pic ,, good job bro 🙂

  16. Incredible! It almost feels as though I am there when looking at these photos, thank you for sharing!!!!

    ♥ Love and light ♥

    ~ Jennifer

  17. Beautiful, love the vivid colours you capture, the warm greys and tonal browns really create the wintry and suburban feel of the city, and the exciting reds insinuate the passion and life living within such a cold landscape.

  18. jvlivs said:

    Nice shots. Reminds me parts of Cleveland as well as Chicago that I’ve seen this past decade.

  19. superb shots….darker clicks….but still brilliant bright work…………..

  20. lijiujiu said:

    Great post.
    I love these shots. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Great pics, never seen people look so smart on the subway lol 🙂

  22. Reblogged this on Hamptons Art Hub and commented:
    I love these images of subway riding in New York City. The work is on view in Berlin through mid-May.

  23. Melizza said:

    I grew up in NY in the 80s and these pics took me back. Wow.

  24. hello, very strong and sharp images of the subway. wow! the photographer’s on a mission, huh!?! … 🙂

  25. Very cool. Gotta wonder how one takes a picture of a guy pulling a gun on another guy and manage to get everything focused and in frame.

    • Mark said:

      Thanks for the Re-blog!

  26. Onigiri said:

    Lovely photos including a black woman with large shades looking up. It makes me feel proud.

    • Mark said:

      yeah that’s my favorite too, amazing image just perfection!

  27. Amazing photos — really gives you a flavor of the time and place.

  28. Amazing, so much talent…I remember seeing some of his work in London, I couldn’t remember the name of the photographer, or even now the place where I saw them but the photos stuck to my mind, beautiful

  29. artchismo said:

    Amazing shots. Sadly some of them make me homesick…especially the one with the kids looking out the window at Coney Island. That’s my hood. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  30. One of the koolest photo posts i’ve seen so far in my time here on wordpress. ratings to u ma man, keep up the slick work. definitely following your work!

  31. Mark said:

    Hey guys cheers for all your comments and likes. I’m a little overwhelmed with all this traffic after being freshly pressed! Really appreciate the support and so glad you all like the content, after all its Bruce Davidson that should be taking all this credit, truly inspiring work. Hopefully some of you will get a chance to see the exhibition and support the C/O in Berlin while your at it, such a great gallery.

  32. Yeah! Photographs do speak for themselves! Thanks for sharing.

  33. This blog is very impressive and enlarged my knowledge, required information & the things i never imagined. i pay my thanks to be given such kind of valuable details.

  34. I moved to NYC in the 80s, when the subways were old, dirty and many had no air conditioning. I used to commute to work every day from Brooklyn to New York. These photos so accurately capture the conditions that I was subjected to day after day. NYC Subway….ain’t nothing like it.

  35. These are very interesting. It’s interesting to see how times have changed such as clothes. If he did it today, I wonder how different it would be.

  36. WOW! Nice pics. These platform shots remind me of Chicago. BTW, congrats on getting Freshly Pressed!

  37. ***The LensMaster said:

    Seeing these photos gives me hope that one day our railway will be as better…

  38. 420stylezz said:

    a genious.genious at capturing post-industrial decaying landscapisms!! love the blog btw!

  39. hipstergomez said:

    Reblogged this on vinylphishrecords and commented:
    Those freeze framed moments often tell compelling stories of their own. Good stuff.

    • Mark said:

      Cheers for the reblog

  40. You would have had to be a fly on a wall to get these photographs. I sometimes see photo ops of people but I’m too nervous to snap the photograph.

  41. jemilp said:

    Amazing photos! Really love the colours in the 4th picture!

  42. I remember reading that bruce originally applied for funding to make a film about the new york subway but was turned down. He then set about with his canon slr and took these pictures instead….amazing how plans change and things work out.

  43. threadofthoughts said:


  44. pulppages said:

    absolutely fantastic photos!!!!!

  45. Joe Labriola said:

    Nice shots! I’ve been on that subway!

  46. cazbag said:

    Wow, I especially love the exterior shot of the blue carriage. My next post will be about the street art I’m sitting next to right now.

    • Mark said:

      Thanks for the reblog man

  47. Shirzad said:

    Bruce Davidson, no doubt is one of the most remarkable phtoghraphers in the current time. Thanks to Iranian monthly Photo Magazine for introducing him to us.

  48. “When you are in the Subway, what is beautiful appears bestial and what is bestial appears beautiful.” Bruce Davidson Love that quote. I’ve spent nearly 60 years riding the NYC Subway…and still haven’t figured out that subterranean state of confusion/ delusion. Superb imagery!

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