Walker Evans (American, 1903–1975)
Gelatin silver print
7 5/8 x 6 3/8 in. (19.5 x 16.1 cm)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1988 (1988.1030)
In the summer of 1936, Walker Evans collaborated with his friend the writer James Agee on an unpublished article about the tenant cotton farmers in the American South, which eventually became the Depression-era masterpiece Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941). Agee interviewd three farm families, and Evans made their portraits as well as detailed studies of their homes, furniture, clothing, and land. This intimate, respectful photograph of a simple broom, a piece of worn cheesecloth, and a ladderback chair recalls Agee's musing that everything in one of the families' cabins "might be licked with the tongue and made scarcely cleaner."