Marc Haefele | Off-Ramp | November 12th, 2014, 12:58pm
Off-Ramp commentator Marc Haefele reviews "Bruce Davidson/Paul Caponigro: Two American Photographers in Britain and Ireland," at the Huntington's MaryLou and George Boone Gallery through March 9, 2015.
Paul Caponigro supposedly said, “I love people. I just don’t want them getting in front of my camera.” But his contemporary, Bruce Davidson, made his living photographing people.
Both have an amazing new show at the Huntington.
Bruce Davidson and Paul Caponigro, born in the 1930s, matured artistically in the 1950s and took different paths to photographic fame. Davidson became a high-end magazine photographer, working with authors such as Norman Mailer, with whom he did a famous series on Brooklyn street gangs. Caponigro took a more creative path, falling under the artistic influence of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Minor White. He used a big view camera with a tripod, while Davidson used Leicas.
Both knew each other’s work, but neither met until this show at the Huntington was compiled.
RELATED: See the photo of their first meeting
You could accurately oversimplify their work’s differences by saying that Davidson is a people photographer, while Caponigro does places. Both by coincidence ended up in the British Isles in the 1960s. And for both, that experience changed their artistic visions. Much of the work they did there has never been shown until now.
Caponigro’s original overseas destination had been Egypt, but 1960 anti-American turmoil there detoured him first to Ireland and then England. Clearly he found in the remote regions of both places the mystic experience he had earlier sought along the Nile. He said, “There’s a force in this land which is alive.” His work there, which he continued into the 1990s, often focuses on the prehistoric world of dolmens, standing stones, and their surrounding landscapes.