Walker Evans (1903 1975) is best known as one of the leading documentary photographers of the Depression Era, and for his photographs of Alabama sharecroppers in James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. His FSA photographs have become icons in the American consciousness, and are perhaps the most influential body of photographic work in this century.But Evans was not the propagandist for social causes he was presumed to be; he was, instead, a fastidious observer, recording, simply, the way things were. His instinctive aversion to artiness” contrasted him sharply from his senior Alfred Stieglitz, and his immediate contemporary, Ansel Adams. Evans' eye took him toward the dusty particulars, the backroads of American life, its rundown mill towns, roadside stands, torn movie posters and advertisements for departed minstrel shows. He developed a peculiarly American vernacular, his particular trademark that makes an Evans photograph almost instantly recognizable.With unrestricted access to all of Evans' diaries, letters, work logs and contact sheets, James R. Mellow has produced one of the most finely wrought portraits of a major American artist ever. Also, it is a deeply informed cultural history of the 1930s and '40s and a lively account of friendships and influences with the likes of Lincoln Kirstein and James Agee.
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Before his death in 1997, James Mellow left one last gracefully written, sensitively nuanced biography to add to a shelf containing National Book Award winner Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times and a remarkable trilogy on seminal figures of the Lost Generation. Mellow's biography of photographer Walker Evans (1903-1977) is just as nimble in making connections between an individual life and the cultural trends it reflected and affected. Although he will always be best remembered for the austere images of Depression-era poverty that accompanied James Agee's prose in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Evans was a nondidactic social realist. "I love to find American vernacular," he once remarked, and Mellow's subtle analysis of Evans's work shows his fastidiously uninflected photographic style being mistaken for a "documentary." In fact, the images' psychological intensity and formal sophistication make the photographs far more than simple records of a time or place. Mellow does not neglect Evans's turbulent personal life, including two divorces and a drinking problem, and is astute about the role in his success of collaborators like Agee, "more ambitious, more hard-headed, more informed about opportunities and better placed to make use of them." Each page and elegantly turned sentence proclaims Mellow's mastery of the biographical craft; he will be sorely missed. --Wendy SmithAbout the Author:
James R. Mellow's 1983 biography, Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times, won the National Book Award. He is also the author of a trilogy of biographies of the Lost Generation: Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein & Company; Invented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald; and Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences. He has written extensively for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Architectural Digest, and Gourmet and Arts magazines. James Mellow died in 1998.
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Book Description Basic Books, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M046509077X
Book Description Basic Books, NY, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. Walker Evans (illustrator). 1st Edition. This is a New and Unread copy of the first edition (1st printing). Book. Bookseller Inventory # 040283
Book Description Basic Books, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P11046509077X
Book Description Basic Books, NY, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. NEW BOOK and DJ, both GIFT quality MINT condition, with new Mylar. // No finer copy exists. Bookseller Inventory # 103286
Book Description Basic Books. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 046509077X New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1819453