His pioneering “lyric” documentary style was elegant, subtle, and direct, fusing a powerful personal perspective with an objective record of time and place. For more than fifty years, Evans focused his penetrating lens on the American scene, building a catalogue of our nation’s social landscape and collective identity through a portrayal of small towns, working-class families, modern urban life, and printed advertisements.
Evans is best remembered for his work documenting the American South, where he made among his most indelible images during the Great Depression, but his career was long and full of innovation. His early work from the 1920s on the streets of New York was inspired by European avant-garde aesthetics and a deep interest in literary conventions. Before chronicling the Depression in America, Evans trained his eye on the working class of pre-revolutionary Cuba. In the decades following his seminal Southern work, he demonstrated interest in covert candid photography, meditated on the aesthetic possibilities of signs, and experimented with color Polaroid film.
Evans’s diverse contributions anticipated and resonated with the mid-century Pop Art movement, insisting that art could be an act of taking, collecting, isolating, and assembling everyday artifacts in new contexts. This exhibition presents one of the most comprehensive assessments of his powerful career to date.