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Unclassified - A Walker Evans Anthology: Se Hardcover – February 1, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-3908247210 ISBN-10: 3908247217

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Scalo Publishers (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3908247217
  • ISBN-13: 978-3908247210
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 8.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,022,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Walker Evans, one of the 20th century's most important photographers, was also a talented and prolific writer. Unclassified: A Walker Evans Anthology collects much of the writing that Evans authored in his lifetime and bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art upon his death. The primarily previously unpublished short stories, poems, criticism--mostly of photography--translations of French literature by the likes of Baudelaire, Cocteau, and Gide, and personal letters offer insight into Evans's aesthetic, cultural, and artistic concerns. Readers learn that Evans admired the objective, journalistic quality of August Sander's portraits of German workers and Eugène Atget's poetic interpretations of Paris, but he held deep disdain for the photos of both Alfred Stieglitz (too "arty") and Edward Steichen (too commercial). What is also evident in these pages is Evans's active interest in the way in which American culture pictures itself. He assiduously collected family photographs taken by his mother, sister, and countless anonymous penny photographers along with picture postcards and snapshots clipped from magazines and newspapers. There are rather personal and emotionally telling writings here, too, including his long-term correspondence with his close friend, the artist Hanns Skolle, in which Evans often describes the details of his daily life along with the larger issues that possessed his thoughts at any given time. A somewhat strange list dated December 26, 1937, is a document of things for which he professed to hold contempt, including "gourmets," "writers," "readers of the New Yorker," and "whatever is meant by the American Spirit."

There are very few photographs in this book, but its visually focused designers include facsimile copies of many of Evans's typed and handwritten papers, which lend it an archeological quality most Evans fans will enjoy. This deeply satisfying anthology includes a sampling from its subject's vast negative archive (around 30,000 frames), replete with his handwritten negative sleeve notes. And, read in concert with a viewing of his photographs (this writer recommends the catalog to the 2000 traveling retrospective), the book offers as complete a view of the master photographer's work and ideas as any Evans admirer could possibly hope for. --Jordana Moskowitz

From Library Journal

Walker Evans, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's catalog to its current major retrospective, is a rock-solid work providing biographical, historical, and visual accounts of the artist's life and work. Hambourg, an assistant curator in the museum's Department of Photography, edited this big book with the straightforward approach that Evans employed in his art. Careful reproduction of well-known black-and-white and little-known color photographs by Evans forms the heart of the volume. There are quality essays here as well, biographical and analytical writing that effectively places Evans's visual efforts in social and territorial context. From the self-portrait on the cover to the notebook entries to the many photographs clustered along the way, Unclassified: A Walker Evans Anthology quickly broadens the popular view of the photographer as a chronicler of 1930s America with black-and-white film in his camera. Gathered from many files in the large and varied Evans Archive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, these collected writings, photos, and ephemera give us a socially concerned writer, artist, and meticulous keeper of his life's work along with his opinions and his collections of postcards. This version of Evans shakes him free of any narrow channel in which we placed him. He led a robust life, and the stillness that comes from his Depression-era work is shaken up by this energized look at the photographer. Walker Evans pointed a camera at his world and let the documentary result speak as his art. Chief curator in the Museum of Modern Art's Department of Photography, Galassi has taken that objective eye as his theme. Gathering over 300 works from several media by 100 artists, Galassi gives us a volume of reportorial art, showing people, places, and things in "as is" condition. Evans touched people with his photographs because he merged his images with their "real lives." The question of whether other artists using other means were influenced by Evans's work or simply liberated to offer a visual vernacular landscape is incidental here. Galassi's book succeeds because his choices match his theme so well and play off the many examples of Evans's work that unite these pages. Though the Metropolitan catalog is the first choice for purchase, all three books are well recommended for all types of libraries and essential for serious art collections.DDavid Bryant, New Canaan Lib., CT
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Rodger Kingston on April 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I was puzzled by this book when I first saw it: it seemed a strange miscellany of archival trivia with little of the unearthed treasure I had hoped to see direct from the official Evans archive. But upon reflection I can see the method to Jeff Rosenheim & Company's "madness." This is less a book to read for enjoyment - although I have found it very enjoyable - than an anthology of materials (writings, letters, photographs, collections) essential to a thorough understanding of Walker Evans, either as a photographer or as a person. It is the background material from which his life was constructed, and I cannot imagine any serious student of Evans neglecting to own it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Interplanetary Funksmanship on November 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What did I learn from this wonderful tome? Well, for one, it really fleshes out the seeming walking contradiction that was Walker Evans: A Bohemian who really *was* poor; A man so honestly in love with the French literature of his day that he went beyond the affectations of a dilletante and made some awkward attempts at his own stories, but also came up with some excellent translations; A progressive of the left who nonetheless had no use for New Deal phoney hacks; A man of letters, culture and taste who also had a great command over four letter words in his letters to Hans Skolle and James Agee (I love the "hatred for" lists compiled by the latter two -- totally politically incorrect).
Walker Evans was a brilliant photographer, therefore was a bitter man, because he observed life so keenly; the warts took on an almost surreal dimension. Nonetheless, he could always see beyond the muck and mire, and it is his bittersweet reflections on life that have the ring of honesty, integrity and a sort of sour, cynical truth, but never "truth with a capital 'T'."
I feel after reading this collection of elusive ephemera that I now truly can begin to understand what made Walker Evans tick.
I recommend reading this while imbibing rum and Cokes or a fine Bordeaux Rouge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John McPhee on July 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Rosenheim's wonderful book is getting harder to find. I recommend it to all Walker Evans fans who will learn much through biographical detail about how he saw his world. This scholarship's arguments and explanations are deliciously refreshing and insightful. Like the cover, it reveals welcome, fascinating, new territory.

The book overflows with its intelligence and extensive, beautiful documentation by and about one of this country's best artists. It has lots of gorgeous reproductions, probably expensive, varnished tri-tones on this heavy, coated stock. It is unusual to enjoy a paper opacity sufficient so as not to show through to some degree what is printed on the other side of each page. I mention all of this because it is rare to find a book that is not intended for a career on a coffee table that has such high production values. Most publications lack the necessary budget and/or expertise to succeed like this book has done. The integrity of Walker's prints are appropriately respected in the process. Their verisimilitude has meaning beyond technical merits and the viewer is not needlessly distracted or required to settle with poor reproductions that have little in common with the original work in any way. Nonetheless, it is not just expensive to print but it is difficult to do it so well. But then again this is the Met. Its excellence does not surprise me.

What a wonderful learning opportunity! The prose is clear and concise, not opaque and jargon drenched. You can actually learn things -- things that matter, new ideas based upon original, well supported interpretations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne Lightly on May 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This anthology, traces the development of an American master, opening a window to his creative process and inner life.
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