With this major retrospective of the work of Walker Evans (1903-1975) Fotomuseum Winterthur pays homage to one of the twentieth century's most influential 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.
Walker Evans was extraordinarily innovative in his approach, capturing the very essence of the "American way of life". The 130 works in this retrospective exhibition, most of them from a private collection in San Francisco, 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.
The modernity of Walker Evans' photography lies primarily in the fact that, as early as the 1920s-1930s, he liberated the medium from all the prevailing conventions of art and style, and took a direct and candid approach to reality. Whatever he captured with his camera was henceforth to be seen as a photographed subject and not as the subject of photography. His work addressed several crucial aspects of photography: the arbitrariness of chance as a creative principle; a critical awareness of photography as a mass medium; the serial nature of the photographic process; the ambiguity of photography between documentation and art; photographic anonymity as emancipation from subjective aesthetics. These innovative approaches to the understanding and use of photography were seminal to the art of the 1960s and 70s (Pop Art, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander and Lewis Baltz).
The exhibition has been organized by Fundación MAPFRE in Madrid. The curator is Jeff L. Rosenheim (curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York), in collaboration with Carlos Gollonet
Fotomuseum Winterthur Website