Your favorite Walker Evans image?

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Bill Mitchell, Dec 12, 2005.

  1. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Back in the medieval days, when I had disposable income and was collecting photographs, I never bought a Walker Evans print because I couldn't decide which one I liked enough. Then he died and prices went through the roof. Now that I can no longer afford any, I know exactly which one I'd buy. How about you? What is your "most collectible" WE image?
     
  2. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    Evans is one of my favorites, but if I could own 1 image, it would have to be the Saratoga street scene done out his hotel window in the rain.
     
  3. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    Used to be that the Library of Congress would sell you a genuine fiber based print made from a Walker Evans negative he made for the FSA. Since his most famous work was done for the FSA, you really have a pretty huge selection. The price is almost a give away. Another way to stick one to the gallery system.

    I am particularly fond of the Hale County Alabama photographs.
     
  4. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    they still sell the work, as well as many others.

    I have about 1/2 dozen and it is hard to say which i love the most.
     
  5. Bill Hahn

    Bill Hahn Member

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    One picture leads to another...

    I like "Girl on Fulton Street" (1929) but have a liking for "42nd Street" (1929) - the woman in the fur coat standing before cars and stairs. Look carefully at the stairs - you'll see the famous "Royal Baking Powder Steps"....
     
  6. André E.C.

    André E.C. Member

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    "Burroughs Family Cabin", Hale County, Alabama, 1936, is one favourite, but the ONE is, "Barber Shop", Atlanta 1936.

    Cheers

    André
     
  7. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    Damaged.
     
  8. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    My choice(s) are 1)Citizen of Havana - a street picture of a very tall, lean, dapper guy in a white suit, and 2) Cemetery Scene (Bethlehem, Pa), with a large cross in the foreground, row houses in the mid ground, and steel mills in the distance.
     
  9. Bill Hahn

    Bill Hahn Member

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    That cemetery more recently.

    Shaun O'Boyle, a talented photographer (living in Western Massachusetts) has taken pictures in that cemetery in recent years:

    http://www.oboylephoto.com/steel/steel2.htm#top

    In the summer of 1966 I attended an NSF seminar at Lehigh University, and I remember riding up that street with the houses on one side the hillside cemetery on the other. I wasn't interested in photography at the time, and more than 30 years later I recognized the scene from the Evans photography....
     
  10. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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  11. lee

    lee Member

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    I got to see a Walker Evans exhibit at the Houston Museum of Fine Art several years ago. They had a lot of images. The images were very well seen the presentation was very poor. Walker was not a very accomplished printer in my way of thinking. Sorta Photo 102. But it was nice to see the images.

    lee\c
     
  12. Dorothy Blum Cooper

    Dorothy Blum Cooper Member

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    Mmm...probably one of my (many) favorites of his is "The Breakfast Room, Belle Grove Plantation". Just something about the south, plantation homes and a simple, southern girls heart.
     
  13. Dorothy Blum Cooper

    Dorothy Blum Cooper Member

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    Struan,
    Don't mean to 'nit-pick', but the image you reference in your post was not by Walker Evans, rather Dorthea Lange. You can see that image here:

    Damaged by Dorthea Lange
     
  14. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    If you are ever in Bethlehem, PA., go to the spot where Walker made this shot. It is very easy to find and was somewhat of a religious experience for me! You park on a little side street, walk about 10 paces up the hill into the cemetery, look left and there it is. I probably parked in the same spot as he did. Hardly a thing has changed aside from the demolition of most of the blast furnaces in the background. It reminds me of that Weston quote, "If it is more than 500 feet from the car, there's not a picture."

    Bill
     
  15. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    This is unfortunately true, but some of his vintage prints shine as well. I don't believe he was a very patient man in the darkroom, but passionate about shooting. A friend has several of his vintage prints and a couple are downright atrocious. Uneven fading and blotchiness I would equate with poor fixation and/or washing. Such a shame.

    I still love the guy though!

    Bill
     
  16. Dorothy Blum Cooper

    Dorothy Blum Cooper Member

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  17. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    No worries. I didn't know the Lange 'Damaged', so thanks for that.

    As it happens, my second choice turned out to be by Strand when I looked it up.
     
  18. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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  19. Christopher Nisperos

    Christopher Nisperos Member

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    I'll second that. I don't know why, but the first time I saw that print (at an exhibition in San Francisco years ago), I was mezmerized.

    The composition is so darned simple. Maybe that's the secret of its charm?
     
  20. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Interesting story about that particular image. It was taken from Evans hotel room balcony. He was in Saratoga with Lincoln Kirsten who spotted the image and made Evans get out of bed, set up his camera, and take the picture.
     
  21. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    Truckman's House. I was thinking of it as the best expression of the composition and layering found in the Bethlehem cross photo. It probably is anyway, Strand was better at that formal aesthetic look.

    I was recently reading about how detailed the instructions were that Stryker handed out to his photographers. Evans must have had a very independent streak to have held out against the endless, over-determined injunctions to produce kitsch. About the only easily-read photo of his I know is the leaning shed in Tupelo.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 19, 2005
  22. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Interesting choice, Struan. This is an image which is almost always reproduced in every collection of Strand's work. Yet it has never appealed to me. Is it also your favorite Stand photograph?
     
  23. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    I haven't seen enough of Strand's work to say if I have a favourite or not. I don't like the pictures from the Hebrides at all, but I do like a lot of the more formal exercises in composition. Wall Street is great. The Fence leaves me a little cold. I came across Truckman's House in a history of photography and loved it before reading the caption and finding out that it was by Strand.

    I know that probably sounds a bit odd for someone as interested in photographic history as I am, but as an autodidact in a wasteland of poor libraries I rely on the net a lot, and Strand's present eclipse makes it hard to find much of his work online. Minor White is another giant of US photography who is in a similar position. The signature images are easy to find, but not enough to get a good feel for their work as a whole.