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Walker Evans

6 min visit

Pompidou Centre
26 Apr → 14 Aug 2017
From Wed to Mon from 11 am to 9 pm. Nocturnal Thu until 9 pm. Closed Tue.

« This first major retrospective in France was a great success, and it finally allowed us to discover one of the greatest American photographers of the 20th century.  »

Walker Evans (1903-1975) is one of the most important American photographers of the 20th century. The Centre pompidou devoted the first major museum retrospective organized in France in 2017 to his work. Through his attention to the details of everyday life and urban banality, he made a major contribution to defining the visibility of 20th century American culture. Some of his photographs have become icons, as have photographs by Dorothea Lange and Robert Franck. The retrospective curated by Clément Chéroux, curator at the Centre pompidou, allowed visitors to delve into the first photographs from the late 1920s to the polaroids of the 1970s. Visitors were able to discover more than 300 period prints from the largest international collections, as well as some one hundred documents and objects, postcards, enamel plates, cut-out images and graphic ephemera collected by Walker Evans throughout his life. Evans is considered to be the precursor of documentary photography. The exhibition was intended to highlight the photographer's fascination with the "vernacular" culture of the United States, as well as some typically American subjects such as roadside barracks, storefronts, or the faces of anonymous passers-by. This approach to Evans' work provides a better understanding of what constitutes the core of his work. The verncular is thus a subject in its own right in his work. Beginning in the early 1930s, most of Walker Evans' photographs have the vernacular as their subject. The places he surveys are traffic areas with no particular quality: major American highways, the main arteries of small towns, city sidewalks with their characteristic signs and shop windows. Those who inhabit his photographs are never known persons, but anonymous, nameless and without rank. The objects that fascinate him are of the most ordinary utilitarian kind, mass-produced and intended for everyday consumption. Evans is fascinated by all these minute details of everyday life, this invisible and unrecorded culture, which, in his eyes, reveals a form of Americanity.


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