September 7 - October 24, 2004

"Isaac Bashevis Singer and the Lower East Side" includes a selection of Davidson's portraits of Singer, stills from the film, the black and white portfolio “The Garden Cafeteria,” and selections from the Lower East Side series. “The Garden Cafeteria,” was a collaboration depicting denizens of the East Broadway restaurant frequented by Singer during his trips to The Jewish Daily Forward. This portfolio, never previously exhibited, includes an introduction by Singer. Through Davidson's lens we see Singer's literary world of Holocaust survivors and émigrés from Eastern Europe – a displaced culture in its twilight.

Born in Poland in 1904, Isaac Bashevis Singer lived much of his life in the United States , where he died in 1991. The Yiddish writer collaborated with the New York documentary photographer Bruce Davidson (American b. 1933) on a film titled Isaac Singer's Nightmare and Mrs. Pupko's Beard in 1973. Singer and Davidson, friends who lived in the same building on the upper West Side of Manhattan and shared an interest in New York City street life, created a funny and surreal feature, both a documentary about Singer in New York and a dramatization of one his short stories. During and after production, Davidson made portraits of Singer and later returned to the Lower East Side for a series of documentary photographs.

Born in 1933, Davidson began to photograph as a child in Oak Park, Illinois , winning a prize in the Kodak National High School Competition at 16. He attended the Rochester Institute of Technology and Yale University. A freelance photographer for LIFE, he joined Magnum Photos in 1958, and produced documentary photo essays, such “Brooklyn Gang” and the “Freedom Rides.” In 1962 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and photographed the Civil Rights Movement, including a rally in Harlem, Ku Klux Klan cross burnings and the marches in Birmingham and Selma. In 1966 he won the first grant from photography from the National Endowment for the Arts and documented East 100 th Street in Harlem, exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and published in 1970. His most recent project is Subway (2004) a revised and expanded book and exhibition of New York City culture in the late seventies and early eighties.

Related Links:


Magnum Photos
IB Singer Centennial Events
National Yiddish Book Center