Evans arrived in Havana in spring 1933, just months before the collapse of the bloody eight-year reign of dictator Gerardo Machado. He had been commissioned by the Philadelphia publisher J.B. Lippincott to make pictures for Carleton Beals's Crime of Cuba, a history of the country and an indictment of American support for Machado's regime. Evans claimed never to have read the book, however, and would routinely distance himself from the ideological agendas of his employers. Instead, the photographer probably looked for inspiration to the model of Eugène Atget, the great encyclopedic chronicler of another city on the cusp of historic change. Evans made over 400 negatives during his stay, collecting the city with his camera: from street vendors and commercial signs to policemen, sleeping beggars, and the stevedores pictured here.
Inscription: Photographer's stamp on print, verso UR: "WALKER EVANS"; inscribed in unknown hand on print, verso TR: "Cuban series // 1932"; inscribed in pencil on print, verso TR: "withdrawn // Arnold H. Crane // 6 Sept 75"
Walker Evans; Arnold H. Crane (by 1970); Ehlers Caudhill Gallery, Chicago (by 1975)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Walker Evans," February 1, 2000–May 14, 2000.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "Walker Evans," June 2, 2000–September 12, 2000.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "Walker Evans," December 17, 2000–March 4, 2001.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "Cuba! Art and History, from 1895 to today," January 31, 2008–June 8, 2008.
Amon Carter Museum of American Art. "American Modern: Documentary Photography by Abbott, Evans and Bourke-White," October 2, 2010–January 2, 2011.
Art Institute of Chicago. "American Modern: Documentary Photography by Abbott, Evans and Bourke-White," February 5, 2011–May 15, 2011.
Colby College Museum of Art. "American Modern: Documentary Photography by Abbott, Evans and Bourke-White," July 9, 2011–October 2, 2011.
May, Jessica L., Sharon Corwin, and Terri Weissman. American Modern: Documentary Photography by Abbott, Evans, and Bourke-White. Berkeley: Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 2010. p. 91, pl. 34.
A portrait of the dock worker at the left appears in American Photographs, Section I, number 33. Negative size: 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.