Walker Evans Decade By Decade Examines Photographer's Unknown Work

Walker Evans Decade By Decade Examines Photographer's Unknown Work

Walker Evans, best know for his work with the Farm Security Administration documenting the horrendous effects of The Great Depression, had a long storied career after his fall from the public eye, much of which has never been seen or exhibited publicly.  The story of Walker Evans: Decade By Decade, published by Hatje Cantz, is of Evans unknown works and the journey of his 47-year career.

By the 1950’s Evans had fallen out of fashion and favor with The Museum of Modern Art in New York, especially with Edward Steichen, the head of the Department of Photography, whom Evans had smeared publicly.  Evans career had gone from cutting edge to corporate sheen as he had held a longtime position at Fortune magazine, or at least that has traditional been the assumption.  Decade By Decade successfully refutes this assumption “by showing a small fraction of this output, seeks to readjust our notions of what Evans was about as an artist.” 

The even-keeled, meticulous and atheistically balanced methods of Evans that served him so well in his Depression Era photos as well as his corporate work in the 1950’s served him equally well in the advancing decades.  Evans body of work, when viewed as a whole, is a line connecting America to its mythical, stoic past.  The cityscapes from the 1970’s look just as dusty and atmospheric as Evans most famous work from the 1930’s; the portraits just as somber and teary-eyed.  For this reason, Walker Evans: Decade By Decade is an essential book documenting the career of one of America’s most prolific photographers.

Walker Evans: American Photographs, shown at The Museum of Modern Art in 1938, was the first exhibition dedicated to the work of a single photographer.  Walker Evans: Decade By Decade rounds out the art world’s examination of Evan’s work.  It’s long overdue.