(American, b. 1933)
Gelatin silver print
Paper: 35.6 x 27.9 cm (14 x 11 in.)
© Bruce Davidson/Magnum Photos
Gift of an anonymous donor 2018.689
Davidson’s series Brooklyn Gang was inspired by a news story he read about a teenage gang called the Jokers.
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.”
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