Walker Evans

Born: 1903

Died: 1975

Hometown: St. Louis, MO

Walker Evans Bio

About The Artist

One of the most important photographers of the 20th century, Walker Evans created a highly influential style of unadorned visual expression that for many came to stand as emblems of the American experience. Best known for his work documenting Midwestern tenant farmers and other hard-bitten sufferers of the Great Depression for the Farm Security Administration—a series collected in the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, written by James Agee—Evans captured iconic representations of the ravages of poverty with a brand of realism as elegant and lyrical as it is incisive and heart-wrenching.

Strongly influenced by James Joyce and other authors of his time who embraced the intricate details of everyday life, Evans also scoured the urban environment for telling shots, such as in the series of photographs he took on the subway with a camera hidden in his coat (which later emerged in book form as Many are Called, 1966). Evan's unique approach to photography captured indigenous American moments, and the technique has been re-appropriated by generations of artists that followed—literally, in the famous case of artist Sherrie Levine's rephotographs of his work. A thwarted writer himself, his attention to narrative, nuance, and irony are evident in the photographs for which he is known.

In 1938, Walker Evans: American Photographs became the first exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art devoted to the work of a single photographer. In 1965, Evans was appointed professor of photography at the Yale University School of the Arts, where he taught for twenty years.


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