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Walker Evans

Starting from Scratch

Svetlana Alpers



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Princeton University Pres
04 January 2021
A magisterial study of celebrated photographer Walker Evans Walker Evans (1903-75) was a great American artist photographing people and places in the United States in unforgettable ways. He is known for his work for the Farm Security Administration, addressing the Great Depression, but what he actually saw was the diversity of people and the damage of the long Civil War. In Walker Evans, art historian Svetlana Alpers explores how Evans made his distinctive photographs. Delving into a lavish selection of Evans's work, Alpers uncovers rich parallels between his creative approach and those of numerous literary and cultural figures, locating Evans within the wide context of a truly international circle. Alpers demonstrates that Evans's practice relied on his camera choices and willingness to edit multiple versions of a shot, as well as his keen eye and his distant straight-on view of visual objects. Illustrating the vital role of Evans's dual love of text and images, Alpers cannily places his writings in conversation with his photographs. She brings his techniques into dialogue with the work of a global cast of important artists-from Flaubert and Baudelaire to Elizabeth Bishop and William Faulkner-underscoring how Evans's travels abroad, in such places as France and Cuba, and his expansive literary and artistic tastes, informed his quintessentially American photographic style. A magisterial account of a great twentieth-century artist, Walker Evans urges us to look anew at the act of seeing the world-to reconsider how Evans saw his subjects, how he saw his photographs, and how we can see his images as if for the first time.
By:   Svetlana Alpers
Imprint:   Princeton University Pres
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 156mm, 
ISBN:   9780691195872
ISBN 10:   0691195870
Pages:   416
Publication Date:   04 January 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Svetlana Alpers is professor emerita of history of art at the University of California, Berkeley, and a visiting scholar in art history at New York University. Her many books include The Art of Describing, The Vexations of Art, and Roof Life. She lives in New York City and France.

Reviews for Walker Evans: Starting from Scratch

A comprehensive study. . . . Alpers shows how Evans's approach differed both from that of other photographers and from conventional assumptions about photography. . . . Intriguing interpretations of Evans's photos and work process, for both specialists and general readers. * Library Journal * Walker Evans: Starting from Scratch by Svetlana Alpers is an entire semester in one volume. . . . Her analysis of Evans' artistic life will not disappoint. . . . This biography affectionately reads like a lecture series, with professor Alpers nudging students to close-read the 143 black/white Evans photos conveniently placed at the book's beginning. ---Jean Bundy, Anchorage Press

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