Walker Evans: American Photographs
Walker Evans is one of the most renowned photographers of the 20th century, with his work capturing the spirit of America during the Great Depression and beyond. His iconic images have been widely published and remain an inspiration to photographers of all levels today. Here are the top 10 facts about Walker Evans that photographers should know.
1. He pioneered a new form of documentary photography
Walker Evans was a pioneer of documentary photography, which is a form of photography that records everyday life. He focused on the details of everyday life, such as shop windows and street signs, to capture the spirit of a place or time. This style of photography was unique in its time and has since been adopted by many other photographers.
2. He was a master of composition
Walker Evans was an expert at composition. He was able to capture a scene in a way that was visually appealing and drew the viewer into the image. His compositions often featured strong lines and shapes, and he often used elements of symmetry in his images. This skill is something that all photographers can learn from.
3. He was a lifelong learner
Walker Evans was a lifelong learner. He was always looking for ways to improve his photography, attending lectures and visiting galleries to learn from the work of other photographers. He was also an avid reader, consuming books on art, photography, and history to further his knowledge. Walker Evans' commitment to learning should be an example to all photographers.
4. He worked for the Farm Security Administration
From 1935 to 1938, Walker Evans worked for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). During this time, he traveled throughout the United States, documenting the lives of rural Americans and the effects of the Great Depression. The photographs he took during this period became some of his most famous works and remain iconic to this day.
5. He collaborated with writer James Agee
In 1936, Walker Evans collaborated with writer James Agee to produce the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. The book featured Evans' photographs alongside Agee's writings, and it documented the lives of three sharecropper families in the rural South. The book was a critical success, and it is still considered to be a masterpiece of documentary photography.
6. He worked on the magazine “Life”
In 1945, Walker Evans joined the staff of Life magazine. During his time at the magazine, he produced some of his most iconic images, including the iconic "Subway Portrait" of a woman on a New York City subway car. He left Life in 1965, but his images from the magazine remain an inspiration to photographers today.
7. He was the first living photographer to have a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art
In 1971, Walker Evans became the first living photographer to have a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The exhibition featured over 150 of his photographs, and it was a critical success. This exhibition cemented Evans' legacy as one of the most important photographers of the 20th century.
8. He was a master of the darkroom
Walker Evans was a master of the darkroom. He was able to manipulate his images to create the exact look he desired. His use of light and shadow, as well as his skill in developing and printing, are still admired by photographers today.
9. He was a prolific photographer
Walker Evans was a prolific photographer, producing more than 17,000 images in his lifetime. He photographed everything from landscapes to people, and his subject matter was varied and diverse. He was also an early adopter of color photography, producing some of the first color images of America.
10. He was a mentor to many photographers
Walker Evans was a mentor to many photographers, offering advice and guidance to those who sought it. He was generous with his time and knowledge, and his influence can still be felt in the work of many photographers today.
Walker Evans is one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. His iconic images, masterful composition, and commitment to lifelong learning are just some of the qualities that photographers can learn from. From the Great Depression to the present day, his work continues to inspire and influence photographers of all levels.