|Figure 1. Walker Evans in Ossining near the river.
Walker Evans in Ossining
Tourmente, serre par la sante perverse d’Amerique,” W. Evans c. 1926
[Tormented, constrained by the perverse well-being of America]
We are excited to present this selection of 41 images taken in Ossining. Please add your comments and questions by clicking the “sign guest book” button at the bottom of each image and on each page.
Walker Evans III is an icon among American photographers. His images,
perhaps more than any other, brought to the American people the
effects of the Great Depression on the South. His subject was the
American vernacular; however, more than that, according to the art
critic Hilton Kramer, “He changed the very conception of what
a photograph might be”.(1) Evans is considered to have been
instrumental in shaping the way we view the details of our lives.
He showed that every street scene has a story in it if you look
closely. His was the first one-man retrospective of a photographer
at a major American museum. The 1938 show at the Museum of Modern
Art, “American Photographs,” featured 100 photographs.
His book of the same title was simultaneously published, with 87
photographs. Five of these were taken in Ossining, New York.
His professional career was started in 1929 with publication of
"The Bridge", a poem by Hart Crane, which used Evans'
photographs of the Brooklyn Bridge, some showing a dramatic perspective
from below. His fame, however, came with the publication of his
images in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, with text by James
Agee, which was the fruit of a New Deal Farm Security Administration
assignment to document the effects of the Depression on the American
South. While often called a documentary photographer, he objected
to the label, preferring "documentary style.” He once
said, “Fine photography is literature, and it should be.”
Walker Evans lived and worked in Ossining between June and October
1928, and intermittently over the next several years, when the images
in this collection were taken. This is the first time most of the
images found within the "photographs" link at the top
of the page have been seen by the public, with the exception of
the five from "American Photographs" and one other that
has been published widely.(3,4) text
continued: Including connections between Walker Evans, Aaron Copland
and John Cheever