Famous Photographers - Walker Evans
Famous Photographers >> Walker Evans
Walker Evans (1903 – 1975) was an American photographer made famous by his work for the Farm Securities Administration documenting the effects of the Great Depression. His work uses the large-format, dispassionate viewpoint to emphasize the plight of the American public during this period of economic unrest. He also focuses on the landscapes and architecture around him.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he attended a string of schools in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, before dropping out of Williams College. After spending a year in Paris, he returned to the United States to join the edgy literary and art crowd in New York City. John Cheever and Lincoln Kirstein were among his friends. And, they held American commercialism in great disdain.
Frustrated by his efforts to become a professional writer, Evans turned to photography in 1930.
In 1938 and 1939 Evans worked with and mentored Helen Levitt. In 1941 Walker Evans co-published, along with James Agee, the ground-breaking book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. It was a series of photos by Evans along with accompanying text by Agee, detailing the two's journey through the rural south during the Great Depression. Its detailed account of three farming families paints a deeply moving portrait of rural poverty.
It has been suggested that Evans provided the inspiration behind Andy Warhol's photo booth portraits, following the publication of 'Subway Portraits' in Harper's Bazaar in March 1962. Evans first experimented with the photo booth self portrait in New York in 1929, using it to detach his own artistic presence from his imagery, craving after the true objectivity of what he later described as the "ultimate purity" of the "record method".
As well as this strong documentary aspect, Evans went on to work in an abstract modernist, using the tools of both black-and-white and colour photography to cover both socio-political issues and more conceptual artistic ideas.
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