Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"LITERATE, AUTHORITATIVE, TRANSCENDENT"




Walker Evans, 1937
The Farm Security Administration
From en.wikipedia.org


Walker Evans (November 3, 1903 – April 10, 1975) photographed a ruinous, time-worn, battered America, an anonymous country of road trips, peeling-paint churches, frayed movie posters. He is the legendary visual chronicler of the Depression. - Jonathan Jones, The Guardian
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Walker Evans came from an affluent family. His father was an advertising director. He spent his youth in Toledo, Chicago, and New York City. He graduated from Phillips Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts, 1922. He studied French literature for a year at Williams College, spending much of his time in the school's library, before dropping out. After spending a year in Paris in 1926, he returned to the United States to join the edgy literary and art crowd in New York City. John Cheever, Hart Crane, and Lincoln Kirstein were among his friends. He was a clerk for a stockbroker firm in Wall street from 1927 to 1929.
(From en.wikipedia.org)


Main Street, Saratoga Springs, New York, 1931
From alefelc.tumblr.com


To make ends meet, Evans tried advertising photography, which he found vapid. Supporting himself with odd jobs, he taught himself to use the camera as a writer uses a pen—to inscribe the meaning of what he saw around him. His early photographic projects, some commissioned, some self-motivated, examined aspects of contemporary American life and its environment—the streets of New York, Victorian architecture in New England, the Brooklyn Bridge. He made abstract compositions of electric signs, sidewalk displays, and shadows cast by elevated train platforms, and documented the city with the combined interests of the historian and the anthropologist. Evans found in these subjects an authentic expression of what was most American about America, and his lasting achievement was to express that sense of indigenous national character in his photographs. He wanted his work, as he once said, to be "literate, authoritative, transcendent."
(metmuseum.org)


Lunchroom Buddies, 1931
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of Lee and Maria Friedlander
From americanart.si.edu


Starving Cuban Family, 1933
Private Collection
Walker Evans Archive
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
From likeyou.com

Walker Evans in Ossining, 1929
From ossining.org
Evans took up photography in 1928 around the time he was living in Ossining, NY. In 1930, he published three photographs (Brooklyn Bridge) in the poetry book The Bridge by Hart Crane. In 1931, he took photo series of Victorian houses in the Boston vicinity sponsored by Lincoln Kirstein. In 1933, he photographed in Cuba on assignment for the publisher of Carleton Beals' then-forthcoming book, The Crime of Cuba, photographing the revolt against the dictator Gerardo Machado. In Cuba, Evans briefly knew Ernest Hemingway.
(From en.wikipedia.org)


Bud Fields, Lily Rogers Fields and Lilian
Sharecropper cabin
Hale County, Alabama
From ttx-net.sk


Summer Children
Hale County, Alabama
From ttx-net.sk


Southern Seed and feed Store
From catalinamonsalve.wordpress.com


CA Johnson & Son
From ttx-net.sk


Mount Pleasant, PA, 1935
From Leonard Dixon photos at picasaweb.google.com


Company House, Scotts Mining Camp, 1935
Morgan Town, west Virginia
From ttx-net.sk


Auto parts shop, Atlanta, Georgia, 1935
From etsy.com


Allie Mae Burroughs, 1935/36
A Symbol of the Great depression
The Farm Security Administration
From en.wikipedia.org


Catfish Mover Watermelon, 1936
From MS at museumsyndicate.com


Atlanta's Negro Quarters, 1936
From jasobrecht.com


Alabama Feed Store, 1936
From ttx-net.sk


Houses in Atlanta, 1936
From ttx-net.sk


Negro House, 1936
New AOrleans, Louisiana
From ttx-net.sk


Walker Evans at Work
From hubpages.com
In the summer of 1936, while still working for the Farm Security Administration (FSA), he and writer James Agee were sent by Fortune magazine on assignment to Hale County, Alabama, for a story the magazine subsequently opted not to run. In 1941, Evans's photographs and Agee's text detailing the duo's stay with three white tenant families in southern Alabama during the Great Depression were published as the groundbreaking book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Its detailed account of three farming families paints a deeply moving portrait of rural poverty. Noting a similarity to the Beals' book, the critic Janet Malcolm, in her 1980 book Diana & Nikon: Essays on the Aesthetic of Photography, has pointed out the contradiction between a kind of anguished dissonance in Agee's prose and the quiet, magisterial beauty of Evans's photographs of sharecroppers.
(From en.wikipedia.org)


Subway
From khalatnost.wordpress.com


Subway Portrait
From toxicocultura.com


In 1938, a selection from his first decade of work was exhibited by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and published as American Photographs, a 20th-century classic that is still in print. From 1938 to 1941, Evans photographed people in the New York subways, "the ladies and gentlemen of the jury." Caught unaware by a camera hidden inside Evans's jacket, the faces of New York's underground travelers are worthy of Dickens or Daumier. Evans published this series in 1966 as Many Are Called.
Evans worked for Time magazine (1943-45) and later for Fortune magazine (1945-65) as a special photographic editor, producing some forty portfolios and photographic essays, many in color, often self-assigned and with his own accompanying text. The pictures made for Fortune—of railroad company insignias, downtown Chicago, common tools, a Mississippi riverfront town in Kentucky, and views of America from a train window—exhibit the simplicity and intelligence that are the essence of Evans's style. The exhibition included a large selection of the original Fortune magazines, black-and-white prints produced for the portfolios, and an extensive series of color images shown on a video screen.
(metmuseum.org)
Walker Evans was remarkably innovative in his wide variety of work, and understood how to grasp the essence of “the American way of life”. His work picked significant aspects of photography as a central theme:
1. The use of coincidence as a creative principle
2. Thoughts on the appropriation
3. The serial nature of the photographic process
4. The document or art ambivalence of photography between documentation or art
5. The anonymity of a picture, liberalising it from subjective aesthetics

These innovations in the perception and manipulation of photography was to define the 1960 and 1970 artistic generation -pop art, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander or Lewis Baltz.
(RED BOX at redbox.de)

Bio:
1903 - Born on November 3rd in St. Louis, Missouri. An American depression- era photographer.
1935-1937 - He was a photographer in the Farm Security Administration.
1941 - Co-wrote his memoir "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" with James Agee.
1945 - He was a staff writer in Time Magazine.
- The editor and photographer of Fortune Magazine.
1960 - Married to Isabelle Böschenstein von Steiger.
1965 - He was a photography professor in Yale University.
1966 - Author of the book in photography "Many are Called".
1975 - Died on April 10th in New Haven, Connecticut.
(s9.com)

Note: I found these images (above) from all over the web. If you own a photo’s copyright and think this page violates Fair Use, please contact me.


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