What else is there to say about Walker Evans other than he is probably the greatest American photographer of the Twentieth Century... Okay - there is plenty more to say.
It's hard to tire of Evan's work - whether it's his early work from Cuba, the extensive Depression era work with the FSA, his subway project or any of the other work he produced from Florida, Northeast architecture or his very late colour work.
Evans' work pretty much defined a whole American approach to photography - indeed American Photographs is probably one of the most important books of photography published in the last century in North America - defining both Modern photography in particular and photography books in general.
A recent word from John Szarkowski:
"Probably the most misunderstood important photographer in American photography is Walker Evans. You know, people think he was photographing the Depression, people think he was photographing poor people or tried to promote social change. Walker was less interested in social change.... But what he really was photographing was something else. Very seldom did he photograph anything that he didn’t think had some kind of quality. Even if it was the record of a failure, it was the record of a failure in which there was some kind of poignancy, some kind of memorable ambition. Some kind of artistic intention, even if naive or cut short. Noble failure was a constant interest of his. A piece of stamped tin ornament thrown away in the junk pile — it’s a record of an artistic ambition that was for some reason cut short, thwarted, died stillborn, of course naive, but nevertheless, on some level, moving."
and from a recent exhibition review:
Interestingly the Library of Congress holds many of Evan's negatives and prints from the FSA work. A lot of this has been digitized and can be found at the American Memory site. While they have links to a few of his most popular photographs up front, if you hunt around (and you do have to hunt) there are a significant number of hi-res files of Evans' work. You can download these and they a certainly good enough to produce your own 11x14 or so print - such as the one below.
"...He combined Hemingway’s economy with Cummings’s wit and Eliot’s urbanity. His laconic scrutiny defined an American visual poetry stripped of Victorian charm and propriety and easy bohemianism. It’s there in the rhyming circles of the windows of the houses echoing Lombard’s shiner on the poster, in the haphazard geometry of the telephone wires and in the tumble of abandoned Model T’s, like tombstones, collected at the base of a grassy hill. The last is akin to one of Brady’s Civil War photographs, silent and eternal. Evans’s mordant dispassion let him see destitution and the everyday in all its ready-made eloquence, short-circuiting our pity and condescension."
While I was hunting around the web for images I was also delighted to find a recorded interview with Evan's at the Getty here