vintage, nostalgia and memories


September 30, 2012

These Amazing Pictures in ‘American Photographs’ by Walker Evans That Captured Scenes of America in the early 1930s

More than any other artist, Walker Evans invented the images of essential America that we have long since accepted as fact, and his work has influenced not only modern photography but also literature, film and visual arts in other mediums.

As seemingly chaotic and even unappealing as the image might feel at first glance, those wildly variant aspects of the photo—the flag, the plant, the faces—somehow cohere into something far more than the sum of their parts. And what’s more amazing is that, after a time, the photograph appears to be gazing back. It is the viewer, and not the picture, that is the subject of an unblinking inquiry—and it’s unsettling.

These pictures, and the other pictures in American Photographs, are intensely daring precisely because the man who made them worked so hard to hide—to efface—the effort that went into creating them. Each image stands on its own, while at the same time each picture references the photograph that comes before, and the photograph that follows.

Penny Picture Display, Savannah, Georgia, 1936

Sidewalk And Shopfront, New Orleans, 1935

Parked Car, Small Town Main Street, 1932

Torn Movie Poster, 1930

Girl In Fulton Street, New York, 1929

Battlefield Monument, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1936

Alabama Cotton Tenant Farmer Wife, 1936

Interior Detail, West Virginia Coal Miner’s House, 1935

Citizen in Downtown Havana, 1932

Roadside Stand Near Birmingham, 1936

Interior Detail of Portuguese House, 1930

Birmingham Boarding House, 1936

View of Easton, Pennsylvania, 1936

Westchester, New York, Farmhouse, 1931

Wooden Church, South Carolina, 1936

Birmingham Steel Mill And Workers' House, 1936

Maine Pump, 1933

(Images: Walker Evans, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art)

1 comment:

  1. Walker Evans was one of the great naturals. He just took pictures of whatever he saw that was real, or tragic, or funny, or heroic. Always with a perfect sense of the mood of light and the arrangement of forms. He surely does make it look easy.

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