The American photographer Walker Evans shaped the history of 20th-century photography like no other. Born in 1903, he studied literature at the Sorbonne in Paris in the 1920s, where he became increasingly interested in European photography. The influence of Eugène Atget and August Sander played a formative role in his own artistic works throughout his life. The “transatlantic” and remote view of American culture particularly characterised his oeuvre. After returning to the United States, Evans began to realise that the artistic material he was looking for was right in front of him – on the streets and in middle-class apartments. He viewed America with the eyes of a stranger and discovered a new magic in the seemingly familiar. He was fascinated by the signs and symbols of the commercial world, the faceless, anonymous architecture, the neglected outskirts of industrial landscapes and people’s suffering during the Depression. As early as the 1930s, Evans started down the path to becoming one of the world’s most influential photographers, and his works served as a significant artistic point of orientation for numerous artists who came after him. In fact, his works were even a role model for Pop Art in the 1970s.
The exhibition, developed by the Josef Albers Museum in Bottrop together with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, was the first European retrospective of Evan’s oeuvre. A number of prominent museums in the United States provided loans to the exhibition. In contrast to earlier exhibitions which primarily focused on his early works from the 1930s, this exhibition also included works from Evan’s later artistic phases. An extensive exhibition catalogue featuring numerous essays accompanied and documented the exhibition.
Curators: John T. Hill (US), Brett Abbott (US), Heinz Liesbrock
Artist: Walker Evans (US)
High Museum of Art, Atlanta: 31 Jan. – 8 May 2016; Vancouver Art Gallery: 29 Oct. 2016 – 22 Jan. 2017