Tuesday, October 13

Walker Evans’ “lineup of faces” on the subway

"Walker Evans might be best known for his stark, intimate photographs of Depression-era sharecroppers across a Deep South landscape of roadside cafes and churches. But Evans also has an extensive history as a New York City street photographer. A St. Louis native, he settled into a Bohemian life in Manhattan in the 1920s, first intending to be a writer before discovering a different kind of poetry in photography. He captured glimpses of everyday city street life, taking pictures of people on tenement stoops and inside lunchrooms. And from 1938 to 1941, he took his camera underground and shot closeups of anonymous New Yorkers on the subway. He shot these unsentimental subway portraits secretly, hiding the camera lens between the buttons of his coat, waiting for just the right moment to click the shutter hidden in his coat sleeve. ... Viewing these naked, powerful images today, they demonstrate that subway riding in 1938 was pretty similar to today: a dance of looking away, getting lost in dreams or worries, busying yourself with a newspaper, or finding yourself the object of an off-putting subway stare."
Ephemeral New York
NY Times: Review/Photography; What Walker Evans Saw on His Subway Rides">
NGA: Walker Evans - Subway Photographs and Other Recent Acquisitions

2011 June: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, 2011 May: A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Walker Evans to Now, 2013 June: Cotton Tenants: Three Families, 2014 May: “Walker Evans and Robert Frank – An Essay on Influence by Tod Papageorge” (1981), 2014 October: Walker Evans: The Magazine Work, 2014 December: Walker Evans: Decade by Decade, 2015 August: Walker Evans: A Life's Work.