This photograph displays Walker Evans' increasingly assured ability to construct meaning out of the juxtaposition of pictorial elements. Here they extend from the hands pointing to the doorway, to the crazy quilt of signs papered across the building's facade, to graffiti scrawled among the signs. Many of Evans' most sophisticated photographs from the period have a rebuslike quality, disclosing previously unnoticed connections in the world. Evans was drawn to the decaying quarters of New York during the Depression-especially to buildings along the waterfront and the Bowery that exhibited, like Paul Strand's blind peddler (33.43.334), a "battered nobility."
Inscription: Artist's stamp, verso TL: "Walker Evans"; collector's stamp, verso TR: "COLLECTION // ARNOLD H. CRANE, CHICAGO, U.S.A."; inscribed in the hand of Arnold Crane, verso CR: "withdrawn // 12/71 // AHC"
Evans, Walker. American Photographs. New York: Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1938. no. 1.
Brix, Michael, and Birgit Mayer, ed. Walker Evans: Amerika: Bilder aus den Jahren der Depression. Munich: Lenbachhaus Kunstbau, 1990. no. 1.
Mora, Gilles, and John T. Hill. Walker Evans: The Hungry Eye. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1993. p. 51.
Hambourg, Maria Morris, Doug Eklund, Mia Fineman, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. Walker Evans. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. no. 43.