On Walker Evans

 

 

Floyd and Lucille Burroughs; Walker Evans (American, 1903 – 1975); 1936; Gelatin silver print; 19.1 × 21.4 cm (7 1/2 × 8 7/16 in.); 84.XM.956.336

 

From the 1920s until he died in 1975, Walker Evans’ work set a high bar for documentary photography, revealing poetry in the ordinary. He was a photographer’s photographer, already accomplished by the time of his unique collaboration in 1941 on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a groundbreaking book written by his friend James Agee (himself a unique talent – a writer’s writer).

Evan’s career was not a straight path to what he became famous for, not least because he drew from a much larger culture than photography alone.

Known for being a most American photographer, documenting ordinary lives and environments, his focus came out of an early antipathy for his own country; influenced by European taste and culture, he started as a writer, where he got assigned to see the conditions he would choose to document on film.

Every photographer in the Western world, documentary, commercial, or fine art, can trace a link in their work back to Walker Evans.

Meredith Mendelsohn, writing for the terrific Artsy website, has written a well-informed, thoughtful piece on the opening of a major museum retrospective.

Read it here: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-walker-evans-changed-way-america