Visiting Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion? You must join the virtual exhibition queue when you arrive. If capacity has been reached for the day, the queue will close early.

Learn more

Walker Evans

Hambourg, Maria Morris, Jeff L. Rosenheim, Douglas Eklund, and Mia Fineman
332 pages
365 illustrations
View More Publication Info

A tenant farmer's deprivation-lined face. Antebellum homes that have seen better days. The display windows of small-town main streets. The early subway commuter. Billboards. The images made by photographer Walker Evans (1903–1975) are icons of national identity that have shaped Americans' views of themselves and directly influenced important currents of modern art. This major catalogue—published to accompany a retrospective exhibition originating at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and traveling to San Francisco and Houston—presents the full range of Evans's work, from his 1920s black-and-white street scenes of anonymous urban dwellers to the color photographs of signs and letter forms from his final years.

Soon after he returned from Paris to New York City in 1927, Evans began contributing to the development of American photography. He captured the substance of people and buildings with a spare elegance that is utterly unpretentious. His gaze is serious but often amused as well, direct yet never simple. During the 1930s, Evans traveled throughout the South to chronicle the effects of economic hardship. The time that he and writer James Agee spent with Alabama sharecropper families yielded an evocative, honest record of the Great Depression, which was published in book form as Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941). Evans then turned his lens back on New Yorkers, photographing subway riders with a camera hidden in his coat. He continued to influence American self-perception as staff photographer for Fortune from 1945 until he accepted a professorship at Yale in 1965.

Evans—who always chose art over what he criticized as artiness—wrote, in Photography (1969), "Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts. This man is in effect a voyeur by nature; he is also reporter, tinkerer, and spy."

Although his work has received many awards, been enshrined in the best museums, and been exhibited on several continents, Evans's total corpus is only now being fully examined. This important book revises our appreciation of Evans by presenting previously unknown material in an accessible context. Essays by Maria Morris Hambourg, Jeff L. Rosenheim, Doug Eklund, and Mia Fineman offer novel insights into the sources and legacy of Evans's work. The result is a superb exploration of what was achieved by one of our finest, mostly deeply American artists.

[Self-Portrait in Window, 5 rue de la Santé, Paris], Walker Evans  American, Gelatin silver print
Walker Evans
September 1926
[Walker Evans' Freshman Class at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts], Unknown, Gelatin silver print
[Walker Evans with His Father and Grandfather], Unknown, Platinum print
Multiple artists/makers
ca. 1907
[Walker Evans Playing Blocks with His Sister Jane Beach Evans], Unknown, Platinum print
[Walker Evans with Cigarette in Mouth and Wearing Towel, in Fraternity House at Philips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts], Unknown, Gelatin silver print
James Joyce, Paris, Berenice Abbott  American, Gelatin silver print
Berenice Abbott
[Walker Evans, Luxembourg Gardens, Paris], Unknown, Gelatin silver print
Walker Evans
December 25, 1926
[Walker Evans Seated at Café Table with Potted Palm, Juan-les-Pins, France], Unknown, Gelatin silver print
Paul Grotz, Walker Evans  American, Gelatin silver print
Walker Evans
[Hanns Skolle, Seated Before Bookshelves in Apartment at 448 West 20th Street, New York City], Walker Evans  American, Gelatin silver print
Walker Evans
Hanns Skolle
April 1928
Lincoln Kirstein, Walker Evans  American, Gelatin silver print
Walker Evans
[Hart Crane], Walker Evans  American, Film negative
Walker Evans
Blind Woman, New York, Paul Strand  American, Platinum print
Paul Strand
[Wagons, Old Wallabout Market, Brooklyn, New York], Walker Evans  American, Film negative
Walker Evans
[Dressing Stand on Street with Reflections of Moving Truck in Mirror, Brooklyn, New York], Walker Evans  American, Film negative
Walker Evans
Boutique, Marché aux Halles, Paris, Eugène Atget  French, Matte gelatin silver print from glass negative
Eugène Atget
Berenice Abbott
1925, printed ca. 1929
[Interior of Coal Miner's Home with Rocking Chair and Advertisements on Wall, West Virginia], Walker Evans  American, Film negative
Walker Evans
June–July 1935
Westchester, New York, Farmhouse, Walker Evans  American, Gelatin silver print
Walker Evans
[Walker Evans Reading Newspaper in Apartment at 48 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York], Unknown, Gelatin silver print
October 1928
Showing 20 of 178

View Citations

Evans, Walker, and Maria Morris Hambourg. 2000. Walker Evans. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Princeton University Press, Princeton.