Exhibition

Walker Evans

September 30, 2017–February 4, 2018

Floor 3

Unprecedented in scope and scale, this major retrospective of seminal photographer Walker Evans views his work through the lens of one of his obsessions — the American vernacular, or the language of everyday life found in roadside attractions, postcards, storefronts, and signage across the country.

Over five decades, Evans’s powerful images responded to and reflected the spirit, suffering, and fortitude of a nation. His iconic images of the Great Depression and his postwar photo essays depicting shop window displays, urban architecture, and junked automobiles defined a new documentary style that continues to influence generations of artists.

SFMOMA’s exhibition — the only presentation of this retrospective in the U.S. — joins together over 300 breathtaking prints, many of which have never before been exhibited, with nearly 100 documents and objects, including many from the photographer’s personal archives. Together they reveal an exceptional eye for the details of everyday life and an essential understanding of twentieth-century America.

This exhibition is organized by the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in collaboration with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Centre Pompidou

Major support is provided by Randi and Bob Fisher.

Exhibition Preview

  • Two boys holding watermelons stand outside of a stand with a rooftop sign reading "F.M. Pointer - The Old Reliabe - House Mover" and the front wall painted with a fish and the words "FISH: Honest Weights, Square Dealings"

    Walker Evans, Roadside Stand Near Birmingham/Roadside Store Between Tuscaloosa and Greensboro, Alabama, 1936; collection of The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

  • Artwork image, Walker Evans, Truck and Sign

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

  • A blurry black and white photograph of a screaming man with disheveled hair

    Walker Evans, Self-Portrait, 1927; collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

  • A grid of small black and white portraits overlaid with the word STUDIO in block letters

    Walker Evans, Penny Picture Display, Savannah, 1936; collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift of Willard Van Dyke; © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

  • A simple painting on a deserted brown road extending toward the horizon and surrounded on either side by electrical poles and building fronts

    Walker Evans, Untitled, 1960s; collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

  • A vintage color postcard of cars parked along a street reading "Main Street, Showing Confederate Monument, Lenoir, North Carolina"

    Lenoir Book Co., Main Street, Showing Confederate Monument, Lenoir, North Carolina [from Walker Evans’s personal collection], 1900–40; collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Walker Evans Archive; © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

  • Portrait of a woman with a furrowed brow standing in front of an unpainted wood wall

    Walker Evans, Allie Mae Burroughs, Wife of a Cotton Sharecropper, Hale County, Alabama, 1936; collection of Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco; © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

  • Artwork image, Walker Evans, Resort Photographer at Work

    Walker Evans, Resort Photographer at Work, 1941; collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York