At the age of 10, Bruce Davidson’s mother gave him a camera and a dark room—and he has never looked back since. Davidson has photographed urban life in Chicago, alcoholics on skid row, tense football players in a locker room, soldiers in the U.S. Army (while serving), and the Civil Rights Movement. Now in a retrospective, two galleries are simultaneously celebrating the volumes of Davidson’s photographs in Five Decades. The Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery exhibits his black-and-white shots—many of them in large format for the very first time—of the goings-on backstage of a circus from 1958 and the Brooklyn Gang 1959 series of young greasers looking tough. Meanwhile, the Howard Greenberg Gallery re-creates Davidson’s explorative narratives of a rundown but spirited East Harlem neighborhood, just as curator John Szarkowski did for MOMA in 1970, in the series titled East 110th Street. Ends December 19, Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, 505 West 24th Street; Howard Greenberg Gallery, 41 East 57th Street, Suite 1406, free

Dec. 2-19, 2009