Princeton University Press

Walker Evans - Starting from Scratch

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Walker Evans (1903-75) was a major American artist who photographed people and places in the United States in thought-provoking ways. He is known for his work for the Farm Security Administration that addressed the Great Depression, but what he actually saw was the diversity of people and the damage from the long Civil War. In Walker Evans, renowned art historian Svetlana Alpers explores how Evans made his signature photographs.

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Walker Evans (1903-75) was a major American artist who photographed people and places in the United States in thought-provoking ways. He is known for his work for the Farm Security Administration that addressed the Great Depression, but what he actually saw was the diversity of people and the damage from the long Civil War. In Walker Evans, renowned art historian Svetlana Alpers explores how Evans made his signature photographs.

Delving into a lavish selection of Evans' works, Alpers reveals rich parallels between his creative approach and that of numerous literary and cultural figures, placing Evans within the broad context of a truly international circle.

Alpers demonstrates that Evans' practice depended on his choice of camera and willingness to edit multiple versions of an image, as well as his sharp eye and his distant direct view of visual objects. 

Alpers illustrates the vital role of Evans' dual love of text and images, putting his writings in conversation with his photographs. She brings his techniques into dialogue with the work of a global cast of important artists—from Flaubert and Baudelaire to Elizabeth Bishop and William Faulkner—and emphasizes how Evans travels abroad in such places as France and Cuba, along with his expansive literary and artistic taste, informed his typically American photographic style.

Dimensions: 13.5 x 20.5 cm
Pages: 416
Language: English
Author: Svetlana Alpers
Publisher: Princeton University Press

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