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 collection. Together they reveal an exceptional eye for the details of everyday life and an essential understanding of twentieth-century America.
Walker Evans photographed the American vernacular, revealing the language of everyday life found in roadside attractions, postcards, storefronts, and signage across the country. These stories provide deeper insight into the photographer’s uncanny understanding of twentieth-century America.
This exhibition is organized by the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in collaboration with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Lead support is provided by Randi and Bob Fisher. Major support is provided by Andy and Mary Pilara, the Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund, and Diana and Steve Strandberg. Generous support is provided by the William and Elizabeth Patterson Family Fund, and Joni Binder and Robert Shwarts. Additional support is provided by Colleen Quinn Amster and John Amster, Marc Ebbin, Maren Monsen and Jeff Grainger, J George and Roxane Hume, Kathleen and Robert Matschullat, Michele and Christopher Meany, Jenny Pearlman and Jack McDonald, Abby and Gene Schnair, Robert Harshorn Shimshak and Marion Brenner, Sande Schlumberger, and Meagan Wilson.
Header image: Walker Evans, 2017 (installation view, SFMOMA)