Thursday, May 3, 2012

Black & White Subway Photographs by Walker Evans (1938-1941)

By 1938, the year he began the series of subway portraits on view at the National Gallery of Art, Walker Evans had already made most of the great photographs on which his reputation is based.

Two years earlier, he spent the summer photographing the sharecroppers whose daily lives became the subject of "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men," his collaboration with the writer James Agee, published in 1941. In the summer of 1938, Evans carried out his last assignment for the Farm Security Administration, where along with Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee and other photographers he helped define a distinctive documentary style and social purpose for the medium. At the end of the year, 100 of his photographs were presented at the Museum of Modern Art, in its first one-person show given to a photographer; his seminal book "American Photographs" was published to accompany the exhibition.


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