Walker Evans Logo Introducing Two Exhibitions
Walker Evans and Company: Works from The Museum of Modern Art
The American Tradition and Walker Evans: Photographs from the Getty Collection
Fact + Fiction Film Series Bookstore
More Events
The American Tradition and Walker Evans: Photographs from the Getty Collection
Click a detail for full image
TransportationMain StreetThe American PeopleInteriorsHomes for AmericaMonumentsEveryday ObjectsSigns

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975) was not the first photographer who aimed to capture the particular, sometimes peculiar, nature of American culture. The quest to visually identify the unique character of all things American began in the mid-1800s, shortly after photography's invention. Later, Evans continued this tradition, defining the subject so well that many other photographers and artists were influenced by his work. The American Tradition & Walker Evans: Photographs from the Getty Collection illuminates how photographers working before and around Evans captured and defined quintessentially American subjects.

Evans's first museum exhibition in 1938 was titled American Photographs. In naming it, he seems to have been largely unaware of this distinguished history and the dozens of photographers who anticipated his interest in typically American images. Evans's contribution was rooted in an attention to the everyday: small-town main streets, modes of transportation, the American people themselves, the places they called home, and the monuments that told their history, as well as the signs and storefronts that advertised and sold the products they used.

The works in this exhibition, drawn from the Getty's extensive holdings of American photographs, were made by nearly thirty different photographers active before or contemporary with Evans. Together these photographs suggest a consistency in representing American visual culture and are the foundation of the American photographic tradition that continues today.