Bruce Gilden

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Bruce Gilden (born 1946) is an American street photographer. He is best known for his candid close-up photographs of people on the streets of New York City, using a flashgun.[1][2] He has had various books of his work published, has received the European Publishers Award for Photography and is a Guggenheim Fellow. Gilden has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1998. He was born in Brooklyn, New York.

Life and work[edit]

Gilden was born in Brooklyn, New York. While studying sociology at Penn State, he saw Michelangelo Antonioni's film Blowup in 1968. Influenced by the film, he purchased his first camera and began taking night classes in photography at the School of Visual Arts of New York. Fascinated with people on the street and the idea of visual spontaneity, Gilden turned to a career in photography.[3] His work is characterized by his use of flash photography. He has worked in black and white most of his life, but he began shooting in color and digital when he was introduced to the Leica S camera as part of Magnum's Postcards From America project.[4] Gilden has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1998.

His first major project was of people at Coney Island.[5] He has photographed people on the streets of New York,[1] Japan's yakuza mobsters, homeless people, prostitutes, and members of bike gangs between 1995 and 2000. According to Gilden, he was fascinated by the duality and double lives of the individuals he photographed.[6] He has also photographed rural Ireland and horseracing there, as well as voodoo rituals in Haiti.

Gilden is the subject of the documentary film Misery Loves Company: The Life and Death of Bruce Gilden (2007).[7]


Gilden has described the way he photographs as “flash in one hand and jumping at people”.[8] Sean O'Hagan, reviewing Gilden's Face (2015) in The Guardian wrote that "his style seems to work against any intention to humanise his subjects."[8] Contemporary American photographer Joel Meyerowitz has this to say about Gilden: “He’s a fucking bully. I despise the work, I despise the attitude, he’s an aggressive bully and all the pictures look alike because he only has one idea—‘I’m gonna embarrass you, I’m going to humiliate you.’ I’m sorry, but no.”[9]


Publications by Gilden[edit]

  • The Small Haiti Portfolio (Limited Edition), Helsinki, Finland, 1990.
  • Facing New York, Manchester, UK: Cornerhouse Publications, 1992. ISBN 978-0-948797-07-1. Published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA.
  • Bleus, Mission Photographique Transmanche (Cross Channel Photographic Mission) no. 13. Douchy-les-Mines, France: Centre Régional de la Photographie (CRP) (Regional Centre for Photography), Nord Pas-de-Calais, 1994.
  • Haïti, Dreams and Nightmares. Stockport, UK: Dewi Lewis and Paris: Marval, 1997.
  • After the Off. Stockport, UK: Dewi Lewis, 1999. ISBN 978-1-899235-17-9. Photographs by Gilden, short story by Dermot Healy.
  • Ciganos. Lisbon, Portugal: Centro Portuguès de Fotografia, 1999.
  • Haiti. Stockport, UK: Dewi Lewis and Paris: Marval, 1999. ISBN 978-1-899235-55-1.
  • Go. London: Trebruk and New York: Magnum Photos, 2000. ISBN 978-0953890101.
  • Coney Island. London: Trebruk, 2002. ISBN 978-0-9538901-2-5.
  • A Beautiful Catastrophe. Brooklyn, NY: Powerhouse, 2005. ISBN 978-1-57687-238-3.
  • Fashion Magazine. Paris: Magnum Photos, 2006. ISBN 978-1-933045-43-6. With text contributions by Hedi Slimane, Viktor & Rolf, Azzedine Alaïa, Ingrid Sischy, Bob Colacello and Francesco Vezzoli. In English and French.
  • Bruce Gilden. Stern Portfolio No.64. Krefeld, Germany: teNeues, 2011. ISBN 978-3-652000-05-5.
  • Foreclosures. London: Browns, 2013. ISBN 978-0-956532-48-0. Available in standard edition (edition of 400) and slipcase edition (edition of 100).
  • A Complete Examination of Middlesex. 2013. London: Archive of Modern Conflict. ISBN 978-0-957049-05-5.
  • Bruce Gilden. Photofile series. London: Thames & Hudson, 2014. ISBN 978-0-500411-10-0.
  • Bruce Gilden. Photo Poche series. Arles, France: Actes Sud, 2014. ISBN 978-2330019624. Preface by Hans-Michael Koetzle. French-language version.
  • Moscow Terminus. New York: Dashwood Books, 2014. Edition of 1000 copies.
  • Face. Stockport, UK: Dewi Lewis, 2015. ISBN 978-1-907893-75-9. With a text by Chris Klatell.
  • Hey Mister, Throw me Some Beads!. Heidelberg, Germany: Kehrer, 2015. ISBN 978-3-86828-608-3.
  • Un Nouveau Regard Sur La Mobilité Urbaine. Paris: La Martinière and RATP, 2015. ISBN 978-2-7324-7595-0.
  • Syracuse, 1981. Tokyo: Super Labo, 2018. Edition of 1000 copies.
  • Only God Can Judge Me. London: Browns, 2018. ISBN 978-0-9928194-7-7. Edition of 700 copies.
  • Palermo Gilden. Palermo, Sicily: 89books, 2020. Edition of 89 copies. ISBN 978-88-944092-5-3.
  • Black Country. Setanta, 2022.

Publications with contributions by Gilden[edit]



Gilden's work is held in the following collections:


  1. ^ a b O'Hagan, Sean (8 March 2011). "Right Here, Right Now: photography snatched off the streets". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  2. ^ Bayley, Bruno (16 July 2013). "Bruce Gilden Takes Street Photos Like You've Never Seen Before". Vice. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  3. ^ Ballentine, Sandra (2003-02-09). "Footnotes". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
  4. ^ Matthews, Katherine, Oktober (June 20, 2015). "In Your Face: An Interview with Bruce Gilden". GUP Magazine. Archived from the original on August 5, 2019. Retrieved February 17, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "Coney Island Archived November 10, 2015, at the Wayback Machine", Magnum Photos.
  6. ^ "Go see..." The Observer. 2001-04-01. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
  7. ^ "Misery Loves Company: The Life and Death of Bruce Gilden". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
  8. ^ a b "A latter-day freak show? Bruce Gilden's extreme portraits are relentlessly cruel". The Guardian. 2015-08-19.
  9. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (2012-11-10). "Joel Meyerowitz: 'brilliant mistakes ... amazing accidents'". The Guardian.
  10. ^ a b c "Bruce Gilden Press Packet Archived September 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine", Bruce Silversteine. Accessed 1 September 2014.
  11. ^ a b "NYFA New York Foundation for the Arts: Directory of Artists’ Fellows 1985-2013", New York Foundation for the Arts. Accessed 1 September 2014.
  12. ^ Sibylle Fischer, "Haiti: Fantasies of bare life", Small Axe no 23 (vol. 11 no 2), June 2007, pp. 1–15 (see particularly pp. 1–9–12). PDF available here Archived 2014-05-12 at the Wayback Machine, Center for Humanities, City University of New York. Accessed 10 May 2014.
  13. ^ "The Japan Foundation: News No. 224 1999.7.1 ISSN 0918-7189 Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine", Japan Foundation. Accessed 1 September 2014.
  14. ^ "1999 Archived 2017-06-11 at the Wayback Machine", Japan Foundation. Accessed 1 September 2014.
  15. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation", John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Accessed 31 August 2014.
  16. ^ "Collection". Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  17. ^ "Photograph". Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2 September 2014. Museum number: PH.670-1987 Gallery location: Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case X, shelf 936 20thC; Gilden Bruce, Hitting the deck,(aka The Boxer)

External links[edit]