Bruce Gilden first set foot in Japan in 1994. On that trip and subsequent others, he explored the meandering streets of a country that had long fascinated him. From Tokyo to Osaka, he laid Japan bare in his own inimitable photographic style. Each image is a very close and powerful encounter with a story behind it. As ever, Gilden makes his approach, talks, tells stories, takes photographs, and paints a portrait of a unique street scene. In search of personalities as strong as his own, Gilden drew on the details around him to transcribe his vision of Japan: one man’s suit, another’s hat, or a woman’s posture. All of these elements, which give strength to the images, form a captivating ensemble – on the margins, just like him.
In Cherry Blossom, Gilden tells the story of these voyages and the ties he maintains with Japan in a rare introductory text. The stories told alongside these pictures – whether an anecdote or a dialogue with their characters – render the American photographer’s vision even more contemporary than ever.
About the Author
Bruce Gilden is one of the most iconic street photographers of our time. Known for his graphic and often confrontational close-ups made using flash, his images have a degree of intimacy and directness that have become a signature in his work.
Though he cut his teeth on the sidewalks of New York City where he grew up, he has since made significant bodies of work in Haiti, Japan, Moscow, France, Ireland and India. “I’m known for taking pictures very close,” says Gilden of his practice. “And the older I get, the closer I get.”
Gilden was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1946. He studied sociology at Penn State University but didn’t complete the course. Although he briefly flirted with the idea of being an actor, Gilden decided to become a photographer in 1967, when he bought his first camera. He attended evening classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York, but largely considers himself to be self-taught.
As well as his many acclaimed personal projects, Gilden has worked on commissions for Louis Vuitton, RATP Parisian transportation system, The Climate Group, and Mission Photographique Transmanche as well as publications including Wallpaper, New York Times Magazine.
Gilden has received many awards and grants for his work, including National Endowments for the Arts fellowships (1980, 1984 and 1992), French “Villa Medicis Hors les Murs” grant (1995), grants from the New York State Foundation for the Arts ( 1979, 1992 and 2000), a Japan Foundation Artist Fellowship (1999) and in 2013 a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. Since the seventies, his work has been exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world.
Gilden lives in Beacon, New York. He joined Magnum Photos in 1998.