Walker Evans

Walker Evans
by Jeff L. Rosenheim
Publisher's Description
This gorgeous retrospective catalogue from the Metropolitan Museum of Art--the first such show in three decades--showcases the full range of Evans's iconic photographs, from his early work in the 1920's to the color SX-70 photographs made near the end of his life. Thoughtful and scholarly essays accompany a wealth of new material.
Amazon.com Review
In 1926 Walker Evans dropped out of Williams College and arrived in Paris to launch his career as a writer. Though his life there revolved around the renowned Shakespeare and Company bookstore, a mixture of introversion and disdain for American culture kept him at a remove from the now famous expatriate circle of the era, the Fitzgeralds, Hemingway, the Murphys, and Joyce among them. He spent most of his time abroad alone and picked up his camera from time to time to document his immediate world, making images of his boarding room and his own shadow against a wall. When he returned to the States, Evans began to dedicate more time to his hobby, and by the end of his long career had established himself as one of the most important modernist photographers. Walker Evans, the catalog to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's retrospective of Evans's work (exhibiting February to May 2000, then moving on to other venues), is proof that his choice to abandon writing for photography left the cultural world richer. It is also arguably the best book available on the photographer and his images.

The Metropolitan possesses the bulk of Evans's archive of prints, negatives, diaries, working notes, letters, and other writings. In the process of planning the show, its curators discovered hundreds of previously unknown negatives stored at the Library of Congress. From this vast source, they constructed the show and its companion book. The catalog's introductory essays by such writers as Maria Morris Hambourg, head of photography for the Met, sketch the biographical details of Evans's life and explore works like his New York subway portraits in depth. But the real treat is to browse the nearly 200 plates, each reproduced from vintage prints in the museum's archive and private collections. Evans's early work focused on New York City--the proverbial bright lights of Broadway, the carnival atmosphere of Coney Island, the clutter of workers and shoppers and cars and advertisements in its streets. Soon he fanned out, photographing main drags and battered buildings in upstate New York and Pennsylvania. He also explored the people of Havana, Cuba, and the rural American South in some of his best-known work. By the mid-1970s, Evans was working in color, but his imagery remained consistent: signs, architecture, and seemingly inconsequential details like a Peg-Board full of kitchen utensils dominate. Arriving at the close of this book, readers can only thank the fates that Evans gave up his ambitions as a writer to devote himself wholly to his "left-handed hobby" of photography. --Jordana Moskowitz

ISBN: 0691050783
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Hardcover : 332 pages
Language: English
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