The Photo-Essay - brief references
Walker Evans and the Photo Essay
1.1"Valid photography, like humor, seems to be too serious a matter
to talk about seriously. If, in a note it can't be defined weightily,
what it is not can be stated with the utmost finality. It is not the
image of Secretary Dulles descending from a plane. It is not cute cats,
nor touchdowns, nor nudes; motherhood; arrangements of manufacturers'
products. Under no circumstances is it 'anything ever anywhere near
a beach'. In short it is not a lie - a cliché - somebody else's
idea. It is prime vision combined with quality of feeling, no less.
" wall label, show of Walker Evans photographs, MOMA NY 1956.
1.2"I am fascinated by man's work and the civilisation he's built.
In fact I think that's the interesting thing in the world, what man
does. Nature bores me as an art form..... In fact nature photographs
downright bore me.... I think, Oh yes. Look at that sand dune. What
of it ? But if you're in love with civilisation, as I am, you stick
to that...." New Rep. Nov 76 (beneath)
1.3"Evans had the best job for Fortune. He hardly did anything
that was actually due at a time. He would go into the managing editor's
office, and present an idea, and the managing editor would say "Why
not ?" and then he'd completely forget about it. Walker'd go out
to photograph for two months time and he'd never show up at the office.
Nobody thought of giving him anything to do. And one day he would trundle
in and would try to sell the story he had gone out to do. Very often
he would succeed." Max Gschwind quoted in Baier below.
"The Communist Party" Sept 34
"Chicago a camera exploration" Feb 47
"Along the Right of way" Sept 50
"The Wreckers" May 51
"The US Depot" Feb 53
"October's Game", Oct54
"Before they disappear" Mar 57
"The Pitch Direct" Oct 58
"People and Places in Trouble" March 61
"When Downtown was a beautiful mess" Jan 62
"American Masonry" April 65
2.1.Letter to Ralph Delahaine Paine 7.23.48. Evans becomes photographic
editor in 1948, "he will take full responsibility for photographic
illustration of selected stories......he will advise on assignment and
direction of other photographers......He will supervise the compilation
of sources of what can be called great pictures - subjects peculiarly
appropriate to Fortune ." RDP.
2.2."The picture is quiet and true. Since I am writing about photography
let me point out that this picture is a better part of the story at
hand than either a drawing or a painting would be. There is a profitable
and well-run cracker firm in a sweaty part of the town, there is a knot
of men talking on the pavement about anything but crackers, amidst the
irrelevant trucks. This is where Mal-o-Mars are cooked and this is where
last week's newspaper meets the gutter too. And the Strand Hotel becomes
famous for flavour. My point is Fortune photographs should take a long
look at a subject, get into it, and without shouting, tell a lot about
it." to Paine, 23.7.48
Books (Walker Evans)
Lesley K.Baier, Walker Evans at Fortune , Wellesley College Museum,
Mullen and Beard, Fortune's America ,ex.cat.Univ.of East Anglia, Rochester
NY 1984, 1987
Tod Papageorge, Walker Evans and Robert Frank , An Essay on Influence
Walker Evans , exhib.catal.,MOMA.NY intro by John Szarkowski.
James Agee, Walker Evans, Let us Now Praise Famous Men ,Own, London
Walker Evans, American Photographs , Museum of Modern Art, NY 1988
Aaron and Bendiner, The Strenuous Decade, A Social and Intellectual
Record of the 1930's Anchor NY 1970
Articles (Walker Evans)
Leslie Katz Interview with Walker Evans, Art in America , March April
Peter Bunnell, An introduction to Evans' work and his Recollections
,The New Republic, Nov 1976.
Lincoln Caplan ed, Walker Evans on Himself, The New Republic , 13 Nov
Photo-Journalism and the photographic sequence (general)
William Stott, Documentary Expression and Thirties America ,Oxford Univ.Press,
Photojournalism , editors of Time Life, NY 1971/2
Gisele Freund, Photography and Society , Gordon Fraser London 1970
Fusco and McBride, The Photo Essay ,Alskog, LA 1974
Heyman and Durniak, The Right Picture , Amphoto NY 1986