Saturday, July 25, 2020

Walker Evan's Final Thoughts on Photographers & the Medium

In 1969 Walker Evans was invited to write the section on photography for Louis Kronenberger’s anthology Quality: Its Image in the Arts (1969). It was his last major statement on the medium.  He chose images taken by Arbus, Cameron, Steiglitz, Cartier-Bresson, Levitt, Frank, Friedlander, his last lover Virginia (Ginni) Hubbard, as well as others. Each double spread carried one image with a text opposite, a format developed by John Szarkowski in his influential book Looking at Photographs (1973). Although there was great variety in Evans’s curation, he ultimately conformed to his own photographic aesthetic which he established forty years earlier:

“(1) absolute fidelity to the medium itself; that is, full and frank and pure utilization of the camera as the great, the incredible instrument of symbolic actuality that it is; (2) complete realization of natural, uncontrived lighting; (3) rightness of in-camera view-finding, or framing (the operator’s correct, and crucial definition of his picture borders); (4) general but unobtrusive technical mastery.”

Walker's excerpts on Frank & Freidlander are the most striking to me as well as his inclusion of Ginni Hubbard. Ginni was a dear friend of Walker's and eventually his "last love." Despite extensive search, the photograph included here is the only one I've found taken by her.

All the best,

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