Walker Evans, Truck and Sign, 1928–30; private collection, San Francisco; © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


Vernacular Culture: The Photography of Walker Evans

Part of SFMOMA 101

This class will explore the theme of the vernacular through the lens of Walker Evans’s photographs. Evans was one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, and his iconic work captured the spirit and character of America. Vernacular photography refers to ordinary photographs, such as snapshots, archival pictures, family albums, and scientific photographs, that we encounter in daily life. Along with his interest in these everyday photos, Evans was an avid collector of Americana, and recorded the American vernacular throughout his travels, photographing roadside attractions, storefronts, and signage across the country. From flea market heirlooms to hashtagged Instagram posts, vernacular culture continues to inspire a new generation of contemporary artists. Through talks and conversations with curators and artists, this class will examine the ways in which photography functions beyond mere representation to reveal the complex meanings behind images.

This class will include a visit to the galleries.


October 5, 2017 — Koret Education Center

Clément Chéroux, senior curator of photography

October 12, 2017 — Gina and Stuart Peterson White Box

Jerry L. Thompson, artist and former assistant to Walker Evans, with Reagan Louie, artist and professor at SFAI

October 19, 2017 — Gina and Stuart Peterson White Box

Judy Fiskin, artist, with Linde B. Lehtinen, assistant curator of photography