Walker Evans, Truck and Sign, 1930, gelatin silver print, 6 1/2 × 8 3/4". © W. Evans Arch., The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Walker Evans: A Vernacular Style”

CENTRE POMPIDOU
PARIS
April 26 - August 14
Curated by Clément Chéroux

While Walker Evans is known today primarily for the austere formalism of his documentary-style photographs from the 1930s, this sprawling retrospective—the first ever for Evans in France—argues for a different view. The real significance of Evans’s photographic work, it claims, lies in how he taps into the incantatory power of old weird America, the folky vernacular culture evident in the outmoded and overlooked: handpainted signs, rural wooden churches built without architects, rotogravure news photos, penny postcards, Polaroid snapshots. A flaneur of the American byways, Evans not only photographed these subjects with attentive zeal but was also a passionate collector of commonplace cultural artifacts, dozens of which are included in the exhibition. For him, as for the Surrealists, such found objects and images were revelatory documents of everyday life, cast in opposition to successive waves of modernist sameness. Travels to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sept. 23, 2017–Feb. 4, 2018.

Brian Wallis