An anonymous donor recently gifted a collection of more than 360 photos taken by world-renowned photographer Bruce Davidson to Columbia College, with an appraised value of $1.2 million according to Penelope Dixon and Associates of New York.
“This is truly a landmark gift for our institution, and we appreciate the generous donation of some of Mr. Davidson’s most recognized works,” said Dr. Scott Dalrymple, president of Columbia College. “These photos will certainly inspire our art students for years to come. The prints will also impact students across many disciplines, as they focus on the different social events that occurred during the 20th and 21st centuries.”
An Iconic Photographer
For more than six decades, Davidson, a veteran of the U.S. Army, captured some of the most iconic photos in the world. He worked to blend into his subject’s life by spending extensive amounts of time in their everyday world. Shooting predominantly in black and white, some of his more well-known photos were taken as part of the Brooklyn Gang collection in the late ’50s where he, according to the international photographic cooperative Magnum Pro, “became a daily observer and photographer of this alienated youth culture.”
Capturing powerful moments
Davidson also captured several of the more powerful photos surrounding the Civil Rights movement during his Time of Change collection spanning 1961-65. In an article in the New Yorker in 2013, the series not only showed “us protests and violence, it also documents the social and economic circumstances in New York City, Chicago, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama.”
Davidson’s work has been published in The New York Times, Time, LIFE, Vogue, and Esquire, and he has exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Walker Art Center, among others. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Center of Photography in 2018.
“The opportunity to curate and display works by an artist of the stature of Bruce Davidson is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Scott McMahon, associate professor in the Visual Arts and Music department and director, Sidney Larson Gallery. “Making art like this accessible to our students and the Columbia community is one of our priorities as an institution, and we look forward to properly stewarding this collection for generations to come.”
The college has some of the photos on display in New Hall and will also be hosting a special exhibition highlighting a selection of photographs from this collection in the future.