Everyone fails, even legendary Magnum photographers like Bruce Davidson who go on to play a part in turning a format into an art form. So bear that in mind next time you’re deliberating on whether to take a chance. Commissioned in 1964 by Esquire to photograph the burgeoning city of Los Angeles, Bruce Davidson managed to produce an honest, evocative portrait of the city. From long empty freeways and drive-through diners to conservative women and flexing muscle-bound he-men, the black and white images offer a glimpse at the soul of a place Davidson said the East Coast institutions thought of as “A cultural desert with acrid air, bumper-to-bumper freeways, tall palms, and sordid Hollywood types.

While the pictures were deemed good enough for the Beastie Boys to later use on their Ill Communication album artwork, the Esquire editors returned the prints without comment and decided against featuring them. Sat in a cupboard for the last 50 years, the rejected images from that commission form the new book Bruce Davidson: Los Angeles 1964. Obviously the time to mature along with the tale attached to the project makes it all the better.

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Get Bruce Davidson: Los Angeles 1964  on Steidl.

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