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Bevan Davies is an American photographer whose vintage prints captured American cities in the 1970/80s. He was educated at the University of Chicago (1959-1961). After establishing himself in Chicago, Davies moved to SoHo, New York City. In Chicago, he was known for his portrayals of anonymous human drama observed in the street, which shifted on his arrival to New York to themes exploring the dilapidated architectural facades that served as mute backdrops to the trendy SoHo neighborhood. When the architectural series was exhibited the year after they were made, their formal austerity and apparently neutral stance invited comparison with the contemporaneous works of Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher and other photographers in the seminal "New Topographics" exhibition. He later went on to photograph Los Angeles, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and more, before retiring in Maine. 


University of Chicago, 1959-1961

Solo Exhibitions

Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, 1977
International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, 1977
Broxton Gallery, Westwood, CA, 1976
Sonnabend Gallery, New York, NY, 1976
Gotham Book Mart, New York, NY, 1969

Group Exhibitions

Street Sight, Armory, 2011
Presences: The Figure and Manmade Environments, Freedman Gallery, Albright College, Reading, PA, 1980
Contemporary American Photographic Works, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1977
La Jolla Museum of Art, La Jolla, CA, 1977
Photography as an Art Form, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL, 1977
New York – Downtown – Manhattan – SoHo, Academia der Kunste, Berlin, 1976
Young Photographers '68, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, 1968
Witkin Gallery, New York, NY, 1967
Photography '64, International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, 1974


J. Paul Getty Museum
Center for Creative Photography
Corcoran Gallery of Art
Art Institute of Chicago
Nelson Atkins Museum
Harry Ransom Center
The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts
International Center of Photography
Metropolitan Museum of Art
George Eastman House
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Seattle Art Museum


Art in America, November/December, 1976
By Michael Sgan-Cohen

Bevan Davies' first solo show revealed a photographer with an acute feeling for style. His subject is architecture, mostly SoHo cast-iron buildings, photographed frontally, using a large-format (5-by-7 inch) camera and wide-angle lens, and printed in a uniform 16-by-20-inch size. These photos have the clarity of Beaux-Arts drawings or models, but since they are photographs (shot at street level) of real buildings, we experience a sense of architectural transformation – the design and its realization are seen at once.

Davies' disposition is toward the abstract, the permanent, the inanimate, the symmetrical. Although the choice of architecture as his only subject may seem to serve purely formal considerations, there are broader subtleties to his content: the human dimension of architecture is strongly present in the "classical" type of building on which Davies concentrates; his subject is a complex composite style embedded in a humanistic tradition.

Realizing Davies' respect for his subject, we might expect a concern for architectural purity, perhaps even an avoidance of ugly fire escapes, business signs or stenciled addresses. But in fact, he manages to show that everything- the original architecture and whatever was added to it – possesses a certain matter-of-fact authenticity. All Davies' formal decisions are expressively relevant. His sensibility often reminds one of some of Hopper's more "objective" renderings.

Davies' technical skills are admirable, as they should be – for his poetic realism requires loving attention to contrast, detail and degrees of sharpness. No attempt is made to seek a light of any particular character (like the pure and even early morning light favored by Bernd and Hilla Becher); rather, lighting conditions vary from subject to subject. Shadows are gently handled, their roles controlled through their assigned values of lightness or darkness; they soften the structural rigidity in which Davies is interested but which he want to qualify.