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March 13, 2022

Bruce Gilden’s Gritty Pictures of 1970s and 1980s New York

Bruce Gilden is an American street photographer. Known for his graphic and often confrontational close-ups made using flash, his images have a degree of intimacy and directness that have become a signature in his work. 

Gilden was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1946. He studied sociology at Penn State University but didn’t complete the course. Although he briefly flirted with the idea of being an actor, Gilden decided to become a photographer in 1967, when he bought his first camera. He attended evening classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York, but largely considers himself to be self-taught.

1978

After recently moving house, Gilden discovered hundreds of contact prints and negatives in his personal archives, from work undertaken in New York, his native city, between 1978 and 1984. From these thousands of images, most of which are new even to their author, Gilden has selected around a hundred for his book Lost and Found. Extending from the desire to revisit the work of his youth, this historic archive constitutes an inestimable treasure.

In Lost and Found, an extraordinary New York is portrayed, revealing an unknown facet of Gilden’s oeuvre. With all the energy of a young man in his thirties, Gilden launched an assault on New York in a visibly tense atmosphere. These pictures are almost all made without the use of flash which was – soon after – to become his trademark. Gilden reflects that he was “probably in a transition period at that time, wanting to use flash more and make more dramatic photos. Maybe that’s why I overlooked these images…”

In this extraordinary gallery of portraits, the compositions—mostly horizontal—simmer with energy, bursting with the most diverse characters, as though Gilden intended to include within the frame everything that caught his eye.

1978

1978

1979

1979

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1988


(via Magnum)




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