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Walker Evans

Under the Influence of Walker Evans


To be an influence is a heavy load. Being one, you must carry the title forever. Well past your years on this earth. It is a reward and a burden, your work standing up against the barrage of up-and-comers breaking new ground. Your name is spoken in reverence, in galleries and cafes. In libraries and schools. But to be an influence, one must not just be strong, but also a rebel. You’ve gone against the grain. Went against convention and became a pioneer at the same time. Perhaps the greatest American rebel, or pioneer, in photography was Walker Evans. And Evans’ shoulders are broad, the load he carries… huge.

Last year marked the 75th anniversary of Evans’ legendary exhibition at MoMA and it’s corresponding book, American Photographs. It can be said that no work has had such an impact on American photography as Evans’ did. It was MoMA’s first exhibition devoted to the work of a single photographer. Though by no means universally lauded, Evans’ images of Depression-era America had a seismic effect. It’s rebellious nature, going against any artistic grain that photography had previously employed ,was seismic. It’s shockwaves rippling across the country, then the world and eventually… time itself.