Untitled (40091)

Brooklyn Gang

Untitled (40091)

1959

Bruce Davidson

(American, b. 1933)

Gelatin silver print

Paper: 35.6 x 27.9 cm (14 x 11 in.)

Gift of an anonymous donor 2018.689

Location

Did you know?

Davidson’s series Brooklyn Gang was inspired by a news story he read about a teenage gang called the Jokers.

Description

The gang members, most of whom were 15 or 16 years old, thought tattoos made them look older and might help them get served at bars. Tattoos were also a demonstration of masculinity and a rite of passage. Bob Powers, seen here at age 15 displaying his first tattoo, recalled years later that “the first time you get a tattoo it’s scary. I was sitting back with a cigarette like it’s nothing. Meanwhile, it was killing me. . . . I got ‘Bobby’ with stars around it. . . . They said, ‘Get your name.’ . . . I hated it forever.”

See also
Department: 
Photography
Type of artwork: 
Photograph

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