Many Are Called

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Overview

Between 1936 and 1941 Walker Evans and James Agee collaborated on one of the most provocative books in American literature, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941). While at work on this book, the two also conceived another less well-known but equally important book project entitled Many Are Called. This three-year photographic study of subway passengers made with a hidden camera was first published in 1966, with an introduction written by Agee in 1940. Long out of print, Many Are Called is now being reissued with a ...

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Overview

Between 1936 and 1941 Walker Evans and James Agee collaborated on one of the most provocative books in American literature, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941). While at work on this book, the two also conceived another less well-known but equally important book project entitled Many Are Called. This three-year photographic study of subway passengers made with a hidden camera was first published in 1966, with an introduction written by Agee in 1940. Long out of print, Many Are Called is now being reissued with a new foreword and afterword and with exquisitely reproduced images from newly prepared digital scans.

Many Are Called came to fruition at a slow pace. In 1938, Walker Evans began surreptitiously photographing people on the New York City subway. With his camera hidden in his coat—the lens peeking through a buttonhole—he captured the faces of riders hurtling through the dark tunnels, wrapped in their own private thoughts. By 1940-41, Evans had made over six hundred photographs and had begun to edit the series. The book remained unpublished until 1966 when The Museum of Modern Art mounted an exhibition of Evans’s subway portraits.

This beautiful new edition—published in the centenary year of the NYC subway—is an essential book for all admirers of Evans’s unparalleled photographs, Agee’s elegant prose, and the great City of New York.

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Editorial Reviews

Randy Kennedy
… in a very real sense the Yale University Press's reissue of the book, along with its original poetic introduction by James Agee, represents the first proper introduction of Evans's subway work to a broad audience and a full reintegration of the photos into the arc of his career. It is hard to imagine a better way to celebrate the subway's centennial or to reconsider Evans, one of the 20th century's most influential photographers and artists.
— The New York Times
Library Journal
Between 1938 and 1941, Evans rode New York City subways with a 35mm Contax camera strapped to his chest. With the lens poking through a button hole, he snapped more than 600 clandestine photos of fellow riders. The pix languished after his 1955 death, until being collected in this 1966 title. Like many of Evans's projects, the purpose of his art was to celebrate the common man/woman in everyday activities. With an introduction by James Agee, the book features 90 gorgeous duotones reproduced from new digital scans along with a new foreword and afterword. Stunning. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300106176
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/27/2004
  • Series: Metropolitan Museum of Art Series
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 8.02 (w) x 9.62 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Luc Sante, author of Low Life, Evidence, and The Factory of Facts, is Visiting Professor of Writing and the History of Photography at Bard College; Jeff L. Rosenheim, Associate Curator, Department of Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is the editor of Unclassified: A Walker Evans Anthology and Walker Evans: Polaroids and was the main contributor to the Metropolitan’s exhibition catalogue Walker Evans (2000).

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Read an Excerpt

Many Are Called


By WALKER EVANS

YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS

Copyright © 2004 The Metropolitan Museum of Art
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-300-10617-3


Introduction

THESE PHOTOGRAPHS WERE MADE IN THE SUBWAY OF NEW YORK CITY, during the late thirties and early forties of the twentieth century. The effort, always, has been to keep those who were being photographed as unaware of the camera as possible. To anyone who understands what a photograph can contain, not even that information is necessary, and any further words can only vitiate the record itself. Because so few people do understand what a photograph can contain, and because, of these, many might learn, a little more will, reluctantly, be risked.

Those who use the New York subways are several millions. The facts about them are so commonplace that they have become almost as meaningless, as impossible to realize, as death in war. These facts-who they are, and the particular thing that happens to them in a subway-need brief reviewing, and careful meditation.

They are members of every race and nation of the earth. They are of all ages, of all temperaments, of all classes, of almost every imaginable occupation. Each is incorporate in such an intense and various concentration of human beings as the world has never known before. Each, also, is an individual existence, as matchless as a thumbprint or a snowflake. Each wears garments which of themselves are exquisitely subtle uniforms and badges of their being. Each carries in the postures of his body, in his hands, in his face, in the eyes, the signatures of a time and a place in the world upon a creature for whom the name immortal soul is one mild and vulgar metaphor.

The simplest or the strongest of these beings has been so designed upon by his experience that he has a wound and nakedness to conceal, and guards and disguises by which he conceals it. Scarcely ever, in the whole of his living, are these guards down. Before every other human being, in no matter what intimate trust, in no matter what apathy, something of the mask is there; before every mirror it is hard at work, saving the creature who cringes behind it from the sight which might destroy it. Only in sleep (and not fully there), or only in certain waking moments of suspension, of quiet, of solitude, are these guards down; and these moments are only rarely to be seen by the person himself, or by any other human being. At the ending of City Lights, that was precisely what Chaplin was using, and doing. In that long moment in which, gently gnashing apart the petals of his flower, his soul, his offering, he perceives, in the scarcely pitying horror of the blind girl to whom he has given sight, himself as he is, he has made full and terrific use of this fact. But it has almost never been used in art; and it is almost never seen in life.



Excerpted from Many Are Called by WALKER EVANS Copyright © 2004 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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