The Great Depression ushered America into an era of social consciousness and liberal reform. In the decade of the 1930’s, under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, writers, artists, photographers, musicians, and performers were marshaled to create works which documented American life, sponsored by government programs such as the F.S.A. (Farm Security Administration) or the W.P.A. (Work Projects Administration). The Great Depression, in itself, had been a rude awakening from the escapism of the Roaring Twenties, so it was not surprising that realism would become the preferred style for creative artists.
And what more realistic genre than the photograph? The 1930’s and 1940’s saw a golden age in photojournalism in America in which photographers such as Ben Shahn, Arthur Rothstein, Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White created visual corollaries to the writings of Erskine Caldwell (TOBACCO ROAD), John Steinbeck (THE GRAPES OF WRATH), and Archibald MacLeish (LAND OF THE FREE). Another highly respected photographer who had already been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York before he joined the F.
S.A. was Walker Evans, whose master images have been preserved in two published volumes. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, November 3, 1903, Walker Evans graduated from the elite Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and studied at both Williams College and the Sorbonne before he began taking photographs in New York City. Walker Evans had a great affect on the society during the times of the depression. Evans was not one of those artists who was known for one particular work, he did many series’ which portrayed ideas and events and epochs in the American culture.
Walker Evans is credited with creating a vision of life in the 1930s, as Americans would wish to see themselves: dignified and indomitable, even in the face of poverty and despair. He was a documentary photography pioneer whose portraits of “the common man” have earned him c…