Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Brooklyn Babes

There has been quite some buzz lately about Bruce Davidson, and his 1950's 'Brooklyn Gang' photos.


"Davidson’s 1959 project Brooklyn Gang is an intimate photographic study of a rebellious Brooklyn teenage gang, who called themselves The Jokers. Davidson was able to document their candid manifestations of worry, energy, enthusiasm, anger, and occasional sadness. The gang seemed to exist in their own secluded world, meandering from Coney Island to diners and taxicabs, anxiously moving forward with an unknown future and unknown goals. Some of them were even thoroughly troubled: one member died from a heroin overdose a few years after Davidson left them. Not only is Davidson’s work a sincere portrayal of troubled teenagers coming of age, but it also acts as a documentation of teenage life during 1950s, exposing the emotional climate of that time period and exposing the dark side of a supposedly innocent time period."

These are some amazing photos.

gangs_01 Bruce Davidson

davidson_168_1998 Bruce Davidson

DAB59007W00223/28-29 Bruce Davidson



I love the overall look of these - they are gritty, sexy, teenage angsty, and dare I say 'cool'? (Get me a pencil skirt and big Brigitte Bardot hair, stat!) The photos remind me of the photography for the Richard Barnes book Mods. I have that book kicking around from when I was in a 'Mod' phase in high school. I'll have to dig it out and share.

I do have a slight obsession with New York / Brooklyn in the 50's because of the Abstract Impressionism movement, beat poets, and down beat jazz. Bruce Davidson is now added to that list.


  1. These are some cool shots.
    I love the kids making-out around the pole, and the vagabond with the kitten.

    I'm suddenly craving a white blouse and a pencil skirt.

  2. what a "gang" these photos are awesome...I cant even imagine how they lived, but they look pretty at least

  3. These pictures are great. I love this era, and particularly this subculture in this era. I wish there was a way to do it now without seeming overly costumey.

  4. Wow... I love these pictures. This is a side of the 50s we don't get to see too often.

  5. Fun! I actually have two of those pics hanging in my bathroom. Torn out from a book of 50s photos I found at the thrift store.