Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
Walker Evans, American, 1903 - 1975
Gelatin silver print
Currently not on view
1999-31-1Purchased with the Alfred Stieglitz Center Revolving Fund, 1999
Label"The subway series . . . was my idea of what a portrait ought to be, anonymous and documentary," Walker Evans recalled. For this body of work, Evans exploited the portability of the handheld camera and the anonymity of metropolitan transportation. With the camera hidden under his coat, all of its settings predetermined, Evans photographed "blind." He was drawn by the candor of people's expressions in the subway, where individuals often retreat into an inner world even when surrounded by a mass of humanity. So as not to jar that unposed sincerity, Evans took his pictures surreptitiously, and partly out of respect for the subjects, he ended up withholding publication of the resulting images for more than two decades. "[T]he rude and impudent invasion," he wrote in 1962, "has been carefully softened and partially mitigated by a planned passage of time."