Bruce Gilden: Why These?

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© Bruce Gilden | Donna, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. 2014

Bruce Gilden: Why These? surveys Gilden’s oeuvre of gritty, true-to-life street photography through choice works hand-selected by the artist himself. A combination of large-scale color portraits as well as black-and-white photos taken all over the globe will give viewers an intimate glimpse into the unvarnished worlds of street life that Gilden has been documenting for decades.

Fotografiska New York and Bruce Gilden today announced the world premiere of Why These?, an exhibition of the American street photographer’s favorite works since 1979, open to the public from June 21 through September 2024. The exhibition will then travel internationally to Fotografiska’s global locations in Tallinn and Stockholm for the remainder of the year and early 2025.

Why These? features 45 photographs, selected by Gilden himself, bringing visitors on a visual tour of his career with 20 candid and often iconic images chosen among all of the photographer’s major projects in Coney Island, Haiti, New York and Tokyo, and 25 large-scale prints of his work in color. After decades of shooting in black-and-white film, Gilden’s major shift to digital color in 2013 is now adding a contemporary edge to his inimitable style and famous portraiture photography. Some of his most striking portraits presented in the exhibition are fresh from last year, and many are on display for the first time.

A lifelong New Yorker, Gilden was born in Brooklyn a year after the end of World War II and came of age amidst a turbulent family life. Spending hours as a child looking at “tough guys” on the bustling streets of Brooklyn from his second-story window shaped Gilden’s attraction to his photographic subjects, which he fondly refers to as “characters.” The artist first bought himself a Miranda camera in 1968 and taught himself how to use it over the next year. Gilden’s perspective forces viewers to confront the often grittier parts of urban life up close: the daily routines, generic encounters or a trip to the corner store burst to life as he insists viewers experience the tension, smell the cigarette smoke, and take in the squalor through his keen eye.

“Bruce’s work is raw, candid, entertaining and insightful – a true documentarian of the human condition,” said Jessica Jarl, Global Exhibitions Director at Fotografiska. “As a native New Yorker, it is only fitting to have his global tour begin right here. Hand-picked by Bruce himself, Why These? gives us an inside look at his creativity, process and inspirations as one of the most brilliant street photographers of our time.”

Best known for his confrontational style and use of flash in his intense portraits of characters from across the world, Gilden does not shy away from humanity’s flaws, imperfections and oddities.

New York
June 21, 2024
September 30, 2024
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