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Walker Evans Decade by Decade

Hatje Cantz, dist. by D.A.P. 2010. 256p. photogs. ISBN 978-3-7757-2491-3. $75. PHOTOG
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Walker Evans's reputation was initially established by his Depression-era collaboration with James Agee on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. That tribute to Southern sharecropper families, as well as Evans's work for the Farm Security Administration, had a profound influence on later artists. However, from the 1940s through the 1960s his celebrity underwent a long dry spell during a commercial association with Fortune magazine, and it was only after the Evans partisan John Szarkowski succeeded Edward Steichen at the photography department of New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1961 that he was rehabilitated among the artistic cognoscenti. His 1930s and post-1960 photos remain those for which he is best known. In his latest book, Crump (Starburst: Color Photography in America 1970–1980) addresses Evans's entire oeuvre, making a decisive case that a cohesive visual unity runs throughout. Many of the 216 photos featured here were taken from the Fortune archive, others from earlier series (such as a 1933 trip to Cuba); all enliven the pages. Crump opens the monograph with an engrossing biographical account of the Evans-Szarkowski association, propelling his central point of Evans's qualitative consistency.
VERDICT The best book on Evans in years, this will appeal to photography pundits.

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