New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Bruce Gilden
Coney Island
Bruce Gilden

You won’t see any of the usual iconic images in this Coney Island exhibition...no parachute jumps, Cyclone roller coaster thrills, or mermaids on parade. What you will see is the Bruce Gilden view of Coney Island, which is up close and personal. Very close-in-your-face personal, and mostly confined to the beach. Gilden, who is a member of Magnum Photo, began photographing Coney Island in the late 1960s and the black and white images in this exhibition cover a period of about 16 years. Most of them are of beach people—very New York types who look like they came from central casting but are only locals out for a day in the sun. Old guys, some flabby middle-aged women...some look like the kind of characters you’d like to photograph if you only had the nerve. Gilden clearly does...he acknowledges that he has a good “bedside” manner and that makes his close encounters easier to pull off, or so he says. Gilden’s approach to photographing people seems to be more William Klein-esque than Cartier-Bresson...he doesn’t wait for the decisive moment, he goes for the grab shot. He seems to shoot and run, the camera in the face approach doesn’t seem to bother his subjects assuming they were aware of his presence. Among the images that stand out is the close-up of an older woman’s huge suntanned breasts, the top of the woman’s bathing suit seems to be pulled down just above her nipples. It’s not a beauty shot but it’s a beaut. In another, a heavy-set woman is spread eagled on her blanket, soaked in suntan oil and glistening in the sun. A small shadow from Gilden’s head is visible at the bottom of the image, much like Friedlander might do. And the shot of the old woman posing on the sand wearing what looks to be her black bra with a handsome, muscle-bound guy approaching in the background. Overall, there are probably an equal number of must-see images to those that are more forgettable, but all a pleasant way to begin the summer.

 by unidentified photographer.
Bruce Gilden

Bruce Gilden
Coney Island


Amador Gallery
41 E 57th St. 6th Fl
Midtown         Map

212 759 6740
amadorgallery.com

Wednesday, May 12 to
Friday, August 20, 2010
Hours: Tues - Fri, 11-6; Sat 11 - 5
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