Jan 12, 2007

Subway Portrait

Subway Portrait


Walker Evans

(American, 1903–1975)

Vintage gelatin silver print

Image: 12.3 x 18.2 cm (4 13/16 x 7 3/16 in.); Matted: 35.6 x 45.7 cm (14 x 18 in.)

Gift in memory of Laura Burgess 1987.152



For four years, Walker Evans secretly photographed passengers on New York City subways with a camera hidden in his jacket. Since he could not look through the viewfinder and the subjects did not know they were being photographed, these images are neutral portraits without preening or prejudice, experiments in chance and intuition. “The guard is down and the mask is off. . . . People’s faces are in naked repose down in the subway,” Evans wrote. “You don’t see among them the face of a judge or a senator or a bank president. What you do see is at once sobering, startling, and obvious: these are the ladies and gentlemen of the jury.”

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