Walker Evans' Depression-era photos revisited in New York exhibit

Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:17pm EDT
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By Ellen Freilich

NEW YORK (Reuters) - From a photograph of an Alabama cotton picker's wife to scenes of urban poverty, the photographs of Walker Evans, on display in a new exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), shaped Americans' view of the Great Depression.

The exhibit, which runs through January 26, 2014, marks the 75th anniversary of Evans' one-person photography exhibit, the first in MoMA's history.

It also coincides with the publication of an anniversary edition of his landmark book, "American Photographs."

"Evans was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century," said Sarah Meister, the exhibit's curator. "His cool, pure vision revealed photography's lyric potential and inspired generations of photographers and other visual artists."

To help illustrate his influence, near the hall featuring Evans' photographs are galleries showing works by artists Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol.

"The placement underscores the connection between prewar avant-garde practices in America and the legacy of Evans' explorations of signs and symbols, commercial culture, and the experience of ordinary Americans," Meister said.

The exhibit is comprised of about 60 prints from the museum's collection that were included in the 1938 exhibition and book.

It features "Alabama Cotton Tenant Farmer's Wife, 1936," a photograph that gazes out from the history textbooks of American high school students, evoking the bleak existence of agricultural workers in places where crop prices plummeted and the soil turned to dust.   Continued...