Vintage Gelatin Silver Print
11.4 x 15.9 cms (4.48 x 6.25 ins)
1933 JHG2175 Mounted on card.
'New Bedford, 1931, IX' in pencil on reverse of mount
Also numbered '#1233', labeled 'box 25' in pencil, signed by the artist and stamped 'Walker Evans / IX, 93' on the reverse of mount.
'New Bedford, 1931, IX' in pencil on reverse of mount Also numbered '#1233', labeled 'box 25' in pencil, signed by the artist and stamped 'Walker Evans / IX, 93' on the reverse of mount.
Writing of Walker Evans early years Jerry L. Thompson records that eventually Evans settled on a documentary style; he was perhaps encouraged in this by his literary interests (Flaubert was a favourite writer), by his reaction to what he thought of as the extreme artiness of artist-photographers such as Stieglitz (to whom he showed his work), and by the stimulation of seeing a few direct photographs which moved him strongly. In later life he frequently mentioned Strand's Blind Woman as a powerful stimulusand by 1930 he had surely seen the work of Atget, whom he praised generously in a review published in 1931.L. Thompson, Walker Evans at Work, 1982
As Evans reflected: I think I incorporated Flaubert's method almost unconsciously, but anyway I used it in two ways; both his realism, or naturalism, and his objectivity of treatment. The non-appearance of author. The non-subjectivity. That is literally applicable to the way I want to use a camera and do. Katz/Evans interview.
Nevertheless, despite the talk of realism, the result has a disorientating effect the Surrealists would have appreciated and a demeaningly subversive positioning of a religious icon. Walker Evans' essay on Atget of 1931 could apply to his own work: It is possible to read into his photographs so many things that he may never have formulated himself His general note is lyrical understanding of the street, trained observation of it, special feeling for patina, eye for revealing detail, over all of which is thrown a poetry which is not 'the poetry of the street' or 'the poetry of Paris', but the projection of Atget's person. Walker Evans in Hound and Horn, October-December, 1931.
At the time of the present photograph, Walker Evans took an assignment to travel in Massachusetts recording its Victorian past with Lincoln Kirstein, for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York staged in 1933. Writing that year in the museum's Bulletin, Kirstein wrote of Walker Evans' use of light in these works; In order to force details into their firmest relief, he could only work in brilliant sunlight and the sun had to be on the correct side of the street. Often many trips to the same house were necessary to avoid shadows cast by trees or other houses; only the spring and fall were favourable seasons.