17 December 2012

Bruce Gilden

by Patrick Baglee, New York Editor

Bruce Gilden © Bruce Gilden/Magnum Photos

POINT London speaker Bruce Gilden is one of the most celebrated photographers of modern times, and a full member of the Magnum photographic cooperative. Born and raised in Brooklyn he was inspired to buy his first Leica camera after watching Antonioni’s ‘Blowup’ in 1968. He then took night classes in photography at the School of Visual Arts before setting out to document the streets and characters of his native New York, including an early fascination with the people and sights of Coney Island.

USA, New York City, 1984. © Bruce Gilden/Magnum Photos

USA, New York City, 1986. © Bruce Gilden/Magnum Photos

USA, New York City, 1986. © Bruce Gilden/Magnum Photos

As his horizons widened Bruce’s subjects became more difficult, challenging and connected to a wider pursuit of social documentation in times of turmoil, conflict and economic upheaval. He has produced dramatic, iconic and moving images from all over the world including Haiti (where he returned on three occasions after the earthquake in 2010), Japan (his book ‘Go’ recorded time he spent amongst Japanese mobsters and biker gangs), Russia and also New York (the work was published in his  two books ‘Facing New York’ and  ‘A Beautiful Catastrophe’ which  took its title from Le Corbusier’s statement on the city).

Haiti, Port-au-Prince. Soccer stadium early evening, 1990. © Bruce Gilden/Magnum Photos
Japan, Asakusa, 1998. Two members of the Yakuza, Japan’s mafia. © Bruce Gilden/Magnum Photos

In the past years, he has worked on another  personal project charting the societal impact of the recession in North America. The resulting photo series, ‘No Place Like Home: Foreclosures in America’, began life in 2008 as a Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund effort and was first shown in 2012 in a shipping container at the Photoville festival in Brooklyn.

Up and down in New York. © Bruce Gilden/Magnum Photos

In 2007 he was the subject of a documentary  by Gideon Gold, ‘Misery Loves Company: The Life and Death of Bruce Gilden’. Most recently, images of the commission on the city of London that Bruce started in 2010 for  The Archive of Modern Conflict were featured at Le Mois de La Photo in Paris last November. Bruce’s work is held in permanent collections at MoMA, The Royal Photographic Society and The Victoria & Albert Museum amongst others. He lives in New York City.