/ by Sarah Jamison

  Walker Evans is one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. His elegant, crystal-clear photographs and articulate publications have inspired several generations of artists was the pioneer of the documentary tradition in American photography. His principal subject was the indigenous expressions of a people found in roadside stands, cheap cafés, advertisements, simple bedrooms, and small-town main streets. For fifty years, from the late 1920s to the early 1970s, Evans recorded the American scene with the nuance of a poet and the precision of a surgeon, creating an encyclopedic visual catalogue of modern America in the making. The Depression years of 1935–36 were ones of remarkable productivity and accomplishment for Evans. In June 1935, he accepted a job from the U.S. Department of the Interior to photograph a government-built resettlement community of unemployed coal miners in West Virginia. He quickly parlayed this temporary employment into a full-time position as an “information specialist” in the Resettlement (later Farm Security) Administration, a New Deal agency in the Department of Agriculture. Between 1934 and 1965, Evans contributed more than 400 photographs to 45 articles published in Fortune magazine. He worked at the luxe magazine as Special Photographic Editor from 1945 to 1965 and not only conceived of the portfolios, executed the photographs, and designed the page layouts, but also wrote the accompanying texts. His topics were executed with both black-and-white and color materials and included railroad company insignias, common tools, old summer resort hotels, and views of America from the train window. Using the standard journalistic picture-story format, Evans combined his interest in words and pictures and created a multidisciplinary narrative of unusually high quality. Classics of a neglected genre, these self-assigned essays were Evans métier for twenty years.

Walker Evans is one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. His elegant, crystal-clear photographs and articulate publications have inspired several generations of artists was the pioneer of the documentary tradition in American photography. His principal subject was the indigenous expressions of a people found in roadside stands, cheap cafés, advertisements, simple bedrooms, and small-town main streets. For fifty years, from the late 1920s to the early 1970s, Evans recorded the American scene with the nuance of a poet and the precision of a surgeon, creating an encyclopedic visual catalogue of modern America in the making. The Depression years of 1935–36 were ones of remarkable productivity and accomplishment for Evans. In June 1935, he accepted a job from the U.S. Department of the Interior to photograph a government-built resettlement community of unemployed coal miners in West Virginia. He quickly parlayed this temporary employment into a full-time position as an “information specialist” in the Resettlement (later Farm Security) Administration, a New Deal agency in the Department of Agriculture. Between 1934 and 1965, Evans contributed more than 400 photographs to 45 articles published in Fortune magazine. He worked at the luxe magazine as Special Photographic Editor from 1945 to 1965 and not only conceived of the portfolios, executed the photographs, and designed the page layouts, but also wrote the accompanying texts. His topics were executed with both black-and-white and color materials and included railroad company insignias, common tools, old summer resort hotels, and views of America from the train window. Using the standard journalistic picture-story format, Evans combined his interest in words and pictures and created a multidisciplinary narrative of unusually high quality. Classics of a neglected genre, these self-assigned essays were Evans métier for twenty years.