Preview: Lower Manhattan: Vintage Photographs 1975-77, Bevan Davies, Deborah Bell Photographs, New York, NY

In Black and White Photography, Exhibits, Gallerist, Photo Print Collector, Photographer on December 29, 2015 at 11:51 am
480 Broadway, New York, 1979, Bevan Davies

480 Broadway, New York, 1979, Bevan Davies

New York City has served as inspiration for many, and Bevan Davies can certainly agree. His works from the mid-seventies celebrated the architecture of Lower Manhattan, and along with works from Los Angeles in 1976, will be on display next year at Deborah Bell Photographs.

Bevan Davies (American, b. 1941) studied photography with Bruce Davidson at the University of Chicago in the early 1960s and benefited greatly through mentoring from Diane Arbus later in that decade.  After a period of photographing people on the street, especially those at odds with society, in both daylight and evening hours with a hand-held camera, Davies changed his working methodology to describe the physical character of the city: the building façades, and the alleys and streets, with a tripod-mounted 5 x 7-inch view camera.

This change in subject and approach resulted in Davies’ most celebrated work.  When created in the mid-1970s, Bevan Davies’ architectural photographs situated themselves wholly within the dictum laid forth by William Jenkins as “New Topographics,” the title of the legendary exhibition Jenkins organized in 1975 at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.  Davies himself writes of his own approach as “an effort being made to let the camera almost see by itself.”  This notion was carried further by the late photographer Lewis Baltz who, in 1976, referred to Davies’ photographs as “rigorously contemporary, while acknowledging a use of the camera which dates from the inception of the medium.”  The images of New York façades, photographed in the early morning hours and devoid of people, describe spaces and shapes defined by light and shadow.  They depict a specific time and place, as evidenced by the window dressings and signage, and they portray a formal grace among the buildings’ details that are included within Davies’ ground glass.  The resulting 16 x 20-inch prints, with their glossy, ferrotyped surfaces and brilliant definition, are at once objective images and seductive objects.

The exhibit, which is being held in cooperation with Joseph Bellows Gallery of La Jolla, CA, will open on January 7th and conclude February 27th.

For More Information: Deborah Bell Photographs

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