Walker Evans; A Biography by Belinda Rathbone, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Walker Evans; A Biography

Walker Evans; A Biography

by Belinda Rathbone
     
 
Walker Evans's haunting images of southern sharecroppers in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men were as revolutionary in their time as James Agee's text and are now deeply ingrained in the American consciousness. In the first full biography of this intriguing and enigmatic artist, a leading national authority on Evans looks beyond the calculated anonymity of his work to

Overview

Walker Evans's haunting images of southern sharecroppers in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men were as revolutionary in their time as James Agee's text and are now deeply ingrained in the American consciousness. In the first full biography of this intriguing and enigmatic artist, a leading national authority on Evans looks beyond the calculated anonymity of his work to reveal the singular obsessions behind it. A man in love with Americana, Evans was a sensualist, a junk collector, a connoisseur, a wit, a perpetual weekend guest. His friendships with Hart Crane, Lincoln Kirstein, and James Agee drew him into the promiscuous New York literary scene in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, and his fierce independence from contemporaries such as Ansel Adams and Margaret Bourke-White brought him notoriety among photographers. Both charismatic and seductively aloof, Evans had a spy's genius for capturing the telling detail. From his rise to prominence with the founding of the Museum of Modern Art to his work

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A college dropout after his freshman year, St. Louis-born photographer Walker Evans (1903-1975) moved to Paris for a year in 1926, then took a brokerage job on Wall Street, pursuing friendships with Hart Crane, James Agee, Ben Shahn, John Cheever, Lincoln Kirstein and others that nourished his art. His documentary studies of the rural South during the Depression evoke the dark side of the American dream with unsparing realism. The elusive, aloof photographer's vision of America as a junk culture of advertising, cars and dereliction may have roots in his troubled childhood, suggests Rathbone, a historian of photography, in an engrossing biography that penetrates Evans's wall of lofty reserve. Growing up in Chicago and Toledo, Evans saw through the false fronts of his father, an advertising executive, and his mother, an extravagant social climber who repeatedly spurned her son's pleas for affection. Evans's father had a love affair with their next-door neighbor and moved in with her, after which Walker turned inward and took up photography. Illustrated with 50 of Evans's photos (not seen by PW). (June)
Donna Seaman
Honored by academia and enlivened by art, young Evans wanted to be a writer, but as Rathbone, his first and very astute biographer, explains, he was "more inclined to be a spy than a confessor." When Evans first starting taking photographs, photography was still considered suspect, a bit too tawdry to qualify as a fine art, but that soon changed, an evolution of aesthetics driven, in part, by Evans' own meticulously observed and often ironic images. Rathbone does a superb job of describing Evans' elusive personality and unique vision. He was a small and physically weak man with a potent and unrelenting gaze, a fondness for fine clothes, and a somewhat ambivalent sexuality. Many of his friends were gay, including Hart Crane and Lincoln Kirstein, and Evans' relationship with James Agee, with whom he collaborated on the unforgettable Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, had an odd cast to it, but Evans loved women, married twice, and had many affairs. On the artistic front, Rathbone chronicles the circumstances surrounding Evans' most famous series, including his New York subway portraits and his photographs of the rural South, providing a rich context for these indelible masterpieces.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395590720
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Publication date:
06/08/1995
Pages:
358
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.31(d)

Meet the Author

Belinda Rathbone has written widely on modern photographers and organized exhibitions for the Museum of Modern Art, the Polaroid Corporation, and the Spanish Ministry of Culture. She lives in Massachusetts and Scotland.

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