Bruce Davidson: An Illustrated Biography - L'Oeil de la Photographie

May 7, 2016

“It was the magic that hooked him, and it hooked him for life.” says Vicki Goldberg in her introduction to Bruce Davidson: An Illustrated Biography.  Davidson, Oak Park, Chicago born, became the stand-out artist of the middle class neighborhood after witnessing a friend developing pictures.  Suddenly, that seed was planted and would soon blossom into a prolific 50-year career of image making.  His newest monograph, An Illustrated Biography, is available for purchase HERE.


Great Britain. Wales. 1965 © Bruce Davidson / Magnum Photos

Great Britain. Wales. 1965 © Bruce Davidson / Magnum Photos

" “Most boys my age had a dog—I had a camera,” he has said. The camera was at first a Falcon 127, then an Argus A2 35mm that he got for his bar mitzvah. Knowing that the camera was coming he became so excited that he forgot part of his Torah reading in the synagogue.

His first image, in 1949, was a dramatically lit close-up portrait of a baby owl in Trailside, a natural preserve close to home. It won him the Kodak High School Snapshot Contest and, today, he sometimes dreams that he visits the owl again, and that she complains “So where are the prints you promised me?”

Until now Bruce Davidson has been very private about his life, and this biography is the first time he has let anyone in. Through the many conversations he had with Vicki Goldberg during the course of two years, the reader learns about his photographs, but most memorably about his motivations, his emotions, the life behind the pictures, his life with his wife Emily Haas-Davidson and their daughters, and the trajectory that led him to become one of the most respected documentarians of the twentieth century, a man still eager to photograph until now, at 82 years of age.

Even though Davidson’s best known reportages are represented in the book, this illustrated biography is by no means simply a picture book; following the same concept as the volume on Eve Arnold (the first in this Magnum Legacy series), thorough research into Davidson’s home archive, occupying a considerable amount of the space in his Upper West Side apartment, has unearthed a number of never-before-seen archival documents, which further illuminate the main events of his life: an essay on photography written while Bruce was studying in Rochester, tear sheets from early publications, story texts, contact sheets, story books, logbooks, family pictures, and so on. "

Read the entire review on


Add a comment