Posts Tagged ‘direct approach to reality

07
Jun
09

Exhibition: ‘Walker Evans’ retrospective at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich

Exhibition dates: 30th May – 23rd August 2009

Curators: Jeff L. Rosenheim and Carlos Gollonet

 

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975) 'West Virginia Living Room' 1935

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
West Virginia Living Room
1935
Gelatin silver print
© Walker Evans archive

 

 

Many thankx to the Fotomuseum Winterthur for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

With this retrospective of the work of Walker Evans (1903-1975) Fotomuseum Winterthur presents one of the twentieth century’s pre-eminent photographers. His lucid and detailed portrayals of American life, especially his images of rural poverty during the Great Depression, made photographic history and went on to influence countless photographers. Walker Evans took an extremely innovative approach, capturing the very essence of the American way of life.

The exhibition, featuring some 120 works (the majority of which are from the most important private collection of Walker Evans’ works) represents every phase of his career: his early street photographs of the 1920s, his poignant documentation of 1930s America and pre-revolutionary Cuba, his landscapes and architectural photography, his subway portraits, storefronts, signage, the later colour Polaroids and more besides. As early as the 1930s, Walker Evans, in a departure from conventional notions of art and style, sought a new direct approach to reality. It is this that makes him a truly modern photographer.

The exhibition was curated by Jeff L. Rosenheim and Carlos Gollonet. Realisation in Winterthur: Urs Stahel. A cooperation with the Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid.

Text from the Fotomuseum Winterthur website

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975) 'Negro Barbershop Interior, Atlanta' 1936

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Negro Barbershop Interior, Atlanta
1936
Gelatin silver print
7 7/16 x 9 1/8″ (18.9 x 23.2 cm)
© Walker Evans archive

 

 

With this major retrospective of the work of Walker Evans (1903-1975) Fotomuseum Winterthur pays homage to one of the twentieth century’s pre-eminent photographers. His insightful and detailed portrayals of American life, especially his images of rural poverty during the Great Depression, made photographic history and went on to influence countless photographers. The 130 works in this retrospective exhibition represent every phase of his career: his early street photographs of the 1920s, his poignant documentation of 1930s America and pre-revolutionary Cuba, his landscapes and architectural photography, his subway portraits, storefronts, signage, and more besides.

On his return from France, where he had tried unsuccessfully to launch a literary career inspired by his love of Flaubert and Baudelaire, Walker Evans turned to photography. From the very start, with his keen eye for street life and the visual freshness of his unexpected slant on what he saw, his work spoke the language of European Modernism. But it was not long before Evans found his true voice – and it was at once profoundly personal and unequivocally American.

Some years before, the direct, undistorted and innovative gaze of Eugène Atget (1857-1927), whose work Evans knew and admired, had quietly paved the way for the split between documentary auteur photography and the purely descriptive photographic tradition. Atget’s unconventional angles, his de-centralised view and his focus on the seemingly trivial all had a major impact on Evans.

Walker Evans’ work is a far remove from what had, until then, been accepted as art photography. He was not interested in superficial beauty, but in a new objectivity. He subscribed to a style that observed undistorted facts and sought to capture things precisely as they were, seemingly without intervention, emotion or idealisation. For the first time in art photography, there were such unusual subjects as a pair of old boots or a subway passenger lost in thought. The artistic quality was based solely on the clarity, intelligence and authenticity of the photographer’s gaze. In this, Walker Evans’ oeuvre represents both a high point and a turning point in the formal and visual evolution of photography.

As the creator of this new, direct style, often referred to as straight photography, which drew upon scenes of sometimes blatant banality and rolled back the boundaries between the ‘important’ and the ‘trivial’, Walker Evans introduced the aesthetics of Modernism into American photography. This seemingly cold detachment spawned a style rich in expressive substance that was not only capable of embracing the lyricism and complexity of the American tradition, but of doing so without a trace of false romanticism, sentimentality or nostalgia. At long last, there was a forward-looking and enduring alternative to the traditional conventions of photography.

Press release from the Fotomuseum Winterthur website [Online] Cited 05/06/2009 no longer available online

 

Walker Evans. 'Traffic Arrow' between 1973-1974

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Traffic Arrow
between 1973-1974
Polaroid
7.9 x 7.9 cm (3 1/8 x 3 1/8 in.)
© Walker Evans archive

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975) '[Detail of Stencilled Lettering on Yellow Railroad Car: "DO NOT HUMP"]' September 16, 1974

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
[Detail of Stencilled Lettering on Yellow Railroad Car: “DO NOT HUMP”]
September 16, 1974
Polaroid
7.9 x 7.9 cm (3 1/8 x 3 1/8 in.)
© Walker Evans archive

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Walker Evans' at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich showing some of his Polaroid photographs

 

Installation view of the exhibition Walker Evans at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich showing some of his Polaroid photographs

 

Installation view of the exhibition Walker Evans at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich

Installation view of the exhibition Walker Evans at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich

Installation view of the exhibition Walker Evans at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich

Installation view of the exhibition Walker Evans at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich

 

Installation views of the exhibition Walker Evans at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975) 'Subway Passengers, New York' 1938

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Subway Passengers, New York
1938
Gelatin silver print
© Walker Evans archive

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Truck and Sign' 1928-1930

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Truck and Sign
1928-1930
Gelatin silver print
© Walker Evans archive

 

Walker Evans. 'Excavation for Lincoln Building, East 42nd Street and Park Avenue' 1929Z

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Excavation for Lincoln Building, East 42nd Street and Park Avenue
1929
Gelatin silver print
© Walker Evans archive

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975) '[Fireplace in Floyd Burrroughs's Bedroom with Bedpost in Foreground, Hale County, Alabama]' 1936

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
[Fireplace in Floyd Burrroughs’s Bedroom with Bedpost in Foreground, Hale County, Alabama]
1936
Gelatin silver print
8 x 10 in.
© Walker Evans archive

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Main Street, Saratoga Springs, New York' 1931

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Main Street, Saratoga Springs, New York
1931
Gelatin silver print
© Walker Evans archive

 

Walker Evans. 'Floyde Burroughs, a cotton sharecropper, Hale County, Alabama' 1936

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Floyde Burroughs, a cotton sharecropper, Hale County, Alabama
1936
Gelatin silver print
© Walker Evans archive

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975) 'Allie Mae Burroughs, Hale County, Alabama' 1936

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Allie Mae Burroughs, Hale County, Alabama
1936
Gelatin silver print
© Walker Evans archive

 

 

Fotomuseum Winterthur
Grüzenstrasse 44 + 45
CH-8400
Winterthur (Zürich)
Phone: +41 52 234 10 60

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11.00 – 18.00
Wednesday 11.00 – 20.00
Monday closed

Fotomuseum Winterthur website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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