A comprehensive retrospective of works by the American photographer Walker Evans (1903-1975) is on view at the Centre Pompidou in Paris until August 14, 2017. The exhibition, curated by Clément Chéroux and Julie Jones, focuses on Walker Evans’ reality-based documentation of the ordinary and the vernacular with his straightforward black-and-white photographs. The show stems from a partnership between Centre Pompidou and Terra Foundation, an institution dedicated to promoting the exploration and understanding of visual arts in the United States.
Walker Evans is best known for his post-depression era photographs of tenant farmers and their families in Alabama. These photographs were published in the 1941 book ‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men’, which he co-authored with James Agee. They include the well-known poignant portrait of Allie Mae Burroughs that became iconic of the Depression-era United States. Centre Pompidou’s exhibition Walker Evans shows a sizeable selection of these photographs, as well as those that Evans took in the 1930s while on assignment for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). These include his documentation of the racial segregation, food queues and despair in the makeshift camps set up for those affected by the disastrous 1937 Mississippi river floods.
These photographs feature along with other themes that Evans explored during his career, thus providing a comprehensive and alternative overview of Evans’ style, his manner of working and his relentless quest to photograph what he saw, as he saw it. His simple, neatly composed and honest photographs are an ode to the mundane details of everyday life and to the beauty of what is ordinary and lost.