“In 1974 I went to see a wonderful exhibition at MoMA New York called “New Japanese Photography “and it blew me away. I thought that if they were making such good photographs in Japan, it had to be a good place for me to work. I kept this idea somewhere on my mind and it only took me twenty-one years to get there! Of course, when I arrived in Tokyo in 1994, the city looked totally different than the one I’d seen in the pictures”.
This is how Bruce Gilden explains the genesis of the work he did in Tokyo and Osaka between 1994 and 2000, revealing another side to the traditional and often stereotypical view of Japanese society.
Digging deeper behind the people’s “ mask of uniformity”, Gilden explores on his own terms the dark side and hardship of daily existence in these two major cities.
In his own Japanese film noir, Bruce Gilden gives lead roles to day workers, homeless women and men, Bozozuku or young bikers gangs, and the intense Yakuza, members of traditional organized crime groups.
Bruce Gilden’s work in Tokyo and Osaka was published in the book Go (Trebuk, UK. 2000)
An Iconic street photographer with a unique style, Bruce Gilden was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1946. He first went to Penn State University but he found his sociology courses too boring for his temperament and he quit college. Gilden briefly toyed with the idea of being an actor but in 1967, he decided to buy a camera and to become a photographer. Although he did attend some evening classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York, Bruce Gilden is to be considered substantially a self-taught photographer.
Right from childhood, he has always been fascinated by the life on the streets and the complicated and fascinating motion it involves, and this was the spark that inspired his first long-term personal projects, photographing in Coney Island and then during the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Over the years he has produced long and detailed photographic projects in New York, Haiti, France , Ireland, India, Russia, Japan, England and now in America.
Since the seventies his work has been exhibited in museum and art galleries all over the world and is part of many collections.
The photographic style of Bruce Gilden is defined by the dynamic accent of his pictures, his special graphic qualities, and his original and direct manner of shooting the faces of passers-by with a flash. Gilden’s powerful images in black and white and now in color have brought the Magnum photographer worldwide fame.
Gilden has received many awards and grants for his work, including National Endowments for the Arts fellowships (1980, 1984 and 1992), French “Villa Medicis Hors les Murs” grant (1995), grants from the New York State Foundation for the Arts ( 1979, 1992 and 2000), a Japan Foundation Artist Fellowship (1999) and in 2013 a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship.
Bruce Gilden has published 15 monographs of his work, among them: Facing New York, 1992; Bleus, 1994; Haiti, 1996 (European Publishers Award for Photography); After The Off, 1999; Go, 2000; Coney Island, 2002; A Beautiful Catastrophe, 2004; Foreclosures, 2013; A complete Examination of Middlesex, 2014. In 2015, Gilden published Face, and Hey Mister Throw Me Some Beads! His new book Un Nouveau Regard Sur la Mobilité Urbaine featuring the commission he did for the French transporation system RATP was released in April 2016.
Bruce Gilden joined Magnum Photos in 1998. He lives in Beacon, New York.
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