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A Gift of Art

$1.2 million photography collection donated to the college

The college received a collection of more than 360 photos taken by world-renowned photographer Bruce Davidson by an anonymous donor with an appraised value of $1.2 million according to Penelope Dixon and Associates of New York.

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 oncein-a-lifetime experience,” said Scott McMahon, associate professor in the Visual Arts and Music department and director of the Sidney Larson Gallery. “Making art like this accessible to our students and the Columbia community is one of our priorities as an institution. 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 the collection later this year.

Two women at lunch counter. Time of Change. New York. USA. 1962. © Bruce Davidson
Andy Warhol in his studio with Double Elvis. New York. USA. 1964. © Bruce Davidson
Marilyn Monroe with husband Arthur Miller during the filming of The Misfits. Reno, Nevada. USA. 1960. © Bruce Davidson