Posts Tagged ‘Walker Evans’

New York Dogs

May 16, 2012

American photographer Walker Evans (1903-1975) documented the effects of the Great Depression on rural America.  The book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, by James Agee with photos by Walker Evans was an outgrowth of this effort.  One of the iconic images from this book is:

portrait of Allie Mae Burroughs in 1936, age 27-- a tenant farmer's wife

Walker Evans–portrait of Allie Mae Burroughs in 1936, age 27– a tenant farmer’s wife

I say, this is an attractive and proud woman, old beyond her years, from constant hard work.  This is not to minimize the hardship and suffering of the rural poor in America.  Nonetheless, an interesting postlude to the Agee/Evans book is this 2005 report on the current status of the sharecroppers featured in the book, and of their descendants in Hale County Alabama .

Less well known, is that Walker Evans started taking photos of unsuspecting passengers on the New York subways in 1938.  For three years he did this using a camera hidden in his coat.  Many years later in 1966 the collected photos from this project were published in the Walker Evans book, Many are Called, with an introduction by James Agee written in 1940.

The first dog photo I would like to share with you today is one of those subway photos of Walker Evans:

Woman in Flower-Brim Hat and Dog--subway-NYC--1938--Walker Evans

Woman in Flower-Brim Hat and Dog–subway-NYC–1938–Walker Evans

Admittedly, he didn’t get the dog too well.  Oh well. Still it is an interesting shot, taken 74 years ago.

Not so well known as Walker Evans but worthy of your attention is the street photographer Leon Levinstein.  To quote the MET:

Leon Levinstein (American, 1910–1988), an unheralded master of street photography, is best known for his candid and unsentimental black-and-white figure studies made in New York City neighborhoods from Times Square and the Lower East Side to Coney Island.

The mere title of the Met’s show says yet more: “Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players Leon Levinstein’s New York Photographs, 1950–1980“.

So here is a Levinstein shot:

Leon Levinstein--probably in New York--1956

Leon Levinstein–probably in New York–1956

And if you would like another you might have a look at beach bums.

Let us now turn to Garry Winogrand (1928-1984), yet another prolific street photographer of New York and elsewhere.  You can find a nice biography of him here, the first paragraph of which I quote:

Garry Winogrand’s too short career defined street photography for future generations of photographers. He made photos of New York City and it’s inhabitants. He traveled the country is search of America. He captured the banalities, the excitement and the complex social realities of a modern city. Winogrand shot incessantly, at the time of his death he had over 2500 rolls of undeveloped film, over 6500 rolls of film that had not been contact printed and 300 contact sheets that showed no signs of being edited. This was a total of over 300,000 photographs that he had taken but not bothered to look at.

But he did look carefully at thousands of his photos and ended up publishing four books of them.  To view a nice selection of his photos, look here.  As a dog I have culled out a few with dogs, for your viewing pleasure:

Garry Winogrand--Dogs in park--New York--1970

Garry Winogrand–Dogs in park–New York–1970

Here is another:

Garrry Winograd--untitled--early 1970's

Garrry Winograd–untitled–early 1970’s

The spotted one looks a bit like my sister Cosi and the shaggy thing in the back looks something like brother Jocko.  Finally, here is one with a dog that looks like me (far right):

Garry Winograd--untitled--date unknown

Garry Winograd–untitled–date unknown

But I’m not that fat, and I certainly don’t have uncontrollable ardor for any wiener dogs.

Changing pace, here is an amusing image by photographer Elliott Erwitt:

Felix, Gladys and Rover--Elliott Erwitt--New York--1976

Felix, Gladys and Rover–Elliott Erwitt–New York–1976

Here is a photo, photographer and date unknown, showing J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972) with a dog contestant in a New York City dog show:

J. Edgar Hoover--with contestant NYC dog show (1960's ?)

J. Edgar Hoover–with contestant NYC dog show (1960’s ?)

Gordon Parks (1912-2006) is celebrated as a photographer, filmmaker, memoirist and breaker of color barriers”.  So said the New York Times LENS blog, here, where you can also find a selection of 19 of Gordon Parks early photos, including this one from May, 1943, sixty-eight years ago (and two months before my human father was born):

Gordon Parks--A woman and her dog--Harlem section--NY--May-1943

Gordon Parks–A woman and her dog–Harlem section–NY–May-1943

Our last photo for this post is by William P. Gottlieb, best known as a photographer of American jazz artists of the 1930’s and 1940’s.  It shows jazz and pop singing great, Billie Holiday, with her dog in 1946:

William P. Gottlieb--Billie Holiday with her dog, Mister, New York, 1946

William P. Gottlieb–Billie Holiday with her dog, Mister, New York, 1946

Thats it for today, folks.

Your best friend,

Rita the dog [ignore video ad, if any, immediately below]