Drew Sawyer

  • Walker Evans, Sidewalk Display, 1957, 35-mm slide. Originally published in Fortune, October 1958. © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    Walker Evans

    IN 1971, on the eve of his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Walker Evans declared, “A document has use, whereas art is really useless. Therefore art is never a document, though it certainly can adopt that style.” This articulation of what Evans famously called “documentary style” helps situate the artist as a progenitor of both the new “social landscape” photographers and Conceptual artists using photography, who during the 1960s turned to the aesthetics of utilitarian pictures. Yet Evans’s definition also points to the continual semantic problems that arise when applying

  • Buck Ellison, Hummus, 2015, ink-jet print, 40 × 50".


    THERE IS SOMETHING TROUBLING about Buck Ellison’s recent photographs. Since 2014, when he graduated from Frankfurt’s Städelschule and returned to his native California, the Los Angeles–based artist has been creating pictures that reproduce the customs and habits of a certain segment of the coastal upper-middle class. In Hummus, 2015, for example, two teenage girls perch atop a pristine kitchen counter as they munch on a plate of sliced vegetables and a container of the eponymous dip. Their pale skin and dirty-blond hair go with the bland white interior. Behind them, a dark-haired woman appears