Observing Los Angeles

Bruce Davidson photographs Los Angeles (images and video)

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The documentary photographer Bruce Davidson is known mostly for his images of New York — and not the softer sides of the city. He shot in Los Angeles in 1964 for Esquire magazine, and in recent years has been coming back to shoot mostly in the hills and canyons. Palm trees, yuccas and the ivy growing on the undersides of freeway bridges factor in his later pictures of LA.

I met with Davidson last year on one of his shooting trips to LA. He was keenly interested in the interface between the city and the chaparral, in places like Runyon Canyon and Chatsworth, and in the Angeles National Forest. We had a small debate about the merits of palm trees — he likes them more than I do. Now an exhibition at the Rose Gallery in Bergamot Station, Bruce Davidson Los Angeles 1964 -2012, is displaying a few dozen of his images. He sent us a few to post, via the Magnum agency where Davidson has been a stalwart for a long time.

In a video last year for The New Yorker, he talks about his forays to LA. "Los Angeles is often perceived as a place of endless freeways and the grids of busy streets, but it is also a place of exotic and even erotic plant life that thrives in an unlikely habitat," he says. "In this quest, I am searching for the confluence of man and nature that interact and struggle to live together in the bright sunshine that is abundant in the city of angels.” Watch the video below.
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Photos by Bruce Davidson/Magnum


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