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Telfair Museums Receives Donation of 347 Works by Photographer Bruce Davidson

The Telfair Museums in Savannah, Georgia, announced that it has been gifted 347 works by American photographer Bruce Davidson, known for his documentation of social inequality, from an anonymous donor. The collection spans Davidson’s career from 1956 to 2008 and includes images from his best-known series, including “Circus,” 1958; “Brooklyn Gang,” 1959; “Time of Change,” 1961–65; “East 100th Street,” 1970; and “Subway,” 1980.

“History and human nature are deftly revealed through the empathetic eye of Bruce Davidson,” Erin Dunn, assistant curator at the Telfair Museums, said in a statement. “This momentous gift not only allows us to revel in the individual photographs of Davidson, but to appreciate his entire career’s worth of noteworthy subjects and imagery. The photographs stand on their own, but will also complement themes and subject matters already evident in the Telfair Museums’ permanent collection.”

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1933, Davidson became interested in photography at age ten. He attended the Rochester Institute of Technology and studied at the Yale University School of Design before he was drafted into the army. When Davidson was stationed near Paris, he met Henri Cartier-Bresson. After his military service he worked for Life magazine, and in 1958 he became the youngest member of Magnum, the photo agency founded by Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, George Rodger, and Chim (David Seymour).

Davidson 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 changing social conditions of one block in East Harlem and the New York City subway, in the early 1980s. His work has been published in the New York Times, Time magazine, Life magazine, Vogue, and Esquire, and he has exhibited at institutions such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Walker Art Center. Davidson was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Center of Photography in 2018. He currently lives and works in New York City.

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