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An Appreciation of Walker Evans

With my friend Doug Kaye today, I explored the Walker Evans exhibition currently running at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.

As we explored Evans’ images, several themes came through, among them:

  • His composition – with street shots that are aggressively composed or cropped to leave just a hint of some elements. Cars, for example, were often present but very limited in their intrusion into the scene.
  • His desire to include advertising signs – as indicative of the mood on the street. Doug comments about how Coca Cola advertising signs could be seen in several of Evans’ shots – and how it reminded him on recent times in Africa where Coca Cola advertising could be seen in the villages today.
  • His subway shots – and how they exposed his subjects. About his subway shooting, he wrote: “The guard is down and the mask is off even more than in lone bedrooms (where there are mirrors), people’s faces are in naked repose down in the subway.” Indeed.
  • His SX-70 shots – in the last year of his life – which are strikingly like Instagram shots we take and share today on our iPhones.

The is a great exhibition – be sure to get there if you can before it closes on April 8, 2012. See also my post Walker Evans – from the Ideal to the Ordinary.

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