PHOTOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM GEDNEY | AN AMERICAN ARCHIVE– BIKERS

The William Gedney series continued–

This time we turn our attention to Gedney’s incredible shots of bikers back from ’66 & ’67, taken in both New York and San Francisco.  The custom handlebar work, while a little over-the-top, is pretty amazing to see, and a real moment in time.  Great stuff by an artist who immersed himself in his work– often living with his subjects for a period of time (as he did with the Kentucky coalminer family from the previous Gedney post), and experiencing a level of intimacy that few photographers would dare to risk.

Man on ornate motorcycle, New York– taken 1967. William Gedney Photographs and Writings. Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gedney/

*

Nazi bikers and motorcyle, New York– taken 1967. William Gedney Photographs and Writings. Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.  http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gedney/

.

Bikers with helmets and tattoos smoking, New York– taken 1967. William Gedney Photographs and Writings. Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gedney/

.

Biker with helmet and ornate motorcycle seated near a Nazi flag, New York– taken 1967. William Gedney Photographs and Writings. Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gedney/

.*

Man with cigarette on motorcycle, San Francisco –taken ’66 or ’67. William Gedney Photographs and Writings. Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gedney/

.

Man in leather jacket, San Francisco.  –taken ’66 or ’67. This so reminds me of my buddy James Burgess. Have you ever been to the Tenderloin, Jimmy?  William Gedney Photographs and Writings. Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gedney/

.

RELATED TSY POSTS:

BIKERS, CIRCA 1983 – 1985 | THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF ANN-SIMMONS MYERS

ARLEN NESS’ SECRET WEAPON DURING THE ’70S CHOPPER BOOM | JEFF MCCANN

BIKES, BIKINIS, BEER & BEACH | VINTAGE DAYTONA BEACH BIKE WEEK

BIKES, BIKINIS, BEER & BEACH PT. II | VINTAGE DAYTONA BEACH BIKE WEEK

BIKES, BIKINIS, BEER & BEACH PT. III | VINTAGE DAYTONA BEACH BIKE WEEK

22 thoughts on “PHOTOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM GEDNEY | AN AMERICAN ARCHIVE– BIKERS

  1. I looked good back then. the leather jacket could be beefed up a bit. Time to visit the Tenderloin…
    I like the top photo. Crazy bike.

  2. I really like the last two pictures. I need the gloves from the second to last.

    The handlebar work looks like some patio furniture at my grandmother’s though, and I bet sucks in a crash.

  3. JP-you need to get out to my neck of the woods and go to the Harley Museum, you would be a kid in the candy store.

  4. In looking at this again I finally figured out how to formulate my inchoate comment from when I read it the first time.

    Once upon a time, wearing Nazi memorabilia, real or repro, was not an expression of anti-Semitism; it was an expression of being a counterculture badass.

    Too bad that we’ve given so much power to the Nazi symbology. I kinda wish it just meant “badass” again.

    This should not be taken as any sort of endorsement of the Nazis or the atrocities they committed, including the Holocaust: they were evil men who did evil things.

  5. Pingback: LA GANG LIFE | DICKIES, THUGS & GUNS THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF ROBERT YAGER « The Selvedge Yard

  6. the wearing of nazi insignia was to shock the ‘straights’ in so called normal society. some old school bikers still wear it to day for the same reason. as a rule most bikers are of the live and let live sort,or,’dont piss me off and i wont piss you off’. of course there are a minority that are of a rascist nature but ‘normal’ society has more than its fair shair of those!

  7. May I suggest switching to black for your captions. They’re near impossible to read. Great site. I’ll be back.

  8. i love all of these images. william gedney is THE man. its a shame he isn’t more well-known in the master-photographer world. great post!

  9. Originally the post WWII veterans who became bikers wore these patches, helmets ect. as trophys of war. Not saying “this represents my ideaology” but quite the oposite. It was more akin to ” look at the scalps I took “. As the biker culture grew and evolved in the 60′s it did indeed grow to become a symbol used for it’s shock value, but was also a representation of the outlaw motorcycle clubs predominantly pro white stance.

    • Fascinating. Thank you for that info.

      I’m guessing there weren’t a whole lot of Jewish bikers, so the pro-white stance probably came as a reaction against some other group (in addition to being a way to shock regular people. Do you think the Nazi helmets, etc. were a reaction against blacks and/or Hispanics?

  10. The young teens in the Gedney pic’s reminded me of me. When I was young. Went into the Army at 17 in 1969 to escape. Good stuff but I’ll have trouble sleeping tonight.

  11. Pingback: THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF SCOTT POMMIER | EPIC IMAGES OF MODERN AMERICANA « The Selvedge Yard

Comments are closed.