In my thought processes, the photographic output of Walker Evans (1903-75) was over-shadowed by the mid twentieth century photographers Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander; the Farm Security Administration (FSA) members like Dorothea Lange, Marion Post Wolcott, and Gordon Parks. Whilst Australian heroes in Dr Michael Coyne and Tim Page piqued my visual interest. The paucity of names on this list is a clear indication of my lack of knowledge of the genre.
Today I expanded that knowledge by a quantum of 100%! Whilst others in my travel group were heading to Whistler for skiing – I was aiming to catch the final days of this block buster exhibition Walker Evans – Depth of Field at the Vancouver Art Gallery. I was not disappointed. Gathered with the skill that only a good curator possesses, from a multitude of sources, this exhibition documented some of Evans earliest work right through to his late output using Polaroid materials. Colour even!
I got to see personal favourites (the old reliable house mover) and discovered many new and ironic photographs (damaged).
These further fed my interest. Of the monochrome photographs, there was a delightful mix of gelatin silver prints (both vintage and later printed) and ink jet. The difference of printing techniques was never a consideration, such was the quality of both old and new. The viewer concentrated on content not on technique. I suspect even Evans would have approved.
Another intriguing find was a photograph of Robert Frank’s stove. Such a personal insight into Frank’s personal space seems to indicate that the two great photographers had a knowledge of each other (albeit late in Evan’s life).
Evans trip to Cuba produced some delightful photographs including another of my personal favourites. It was a joy to see three variants, including a large inkjet print, all side by side for the viewer’s pleasure.
Such curatorship is wonderful when it is carefully crafted to seduce and educate the viewer.
A pleasant gallery interlude and totally worth a trip around the world to view. Thank you Vancouver Art Gallery.