In 1933, Walker Evans traveled to Cuba to take photographs for The Crime of Cuba, a book by the American journalist Carleton Beals. Beals's explicit goal was to expose the corruption of Cuban dictator Gerardo Machado and the long, torturous relationship between the United States and its island neighbor. The photographs Evans made during his visit to Cuba are fascinating for both their subject matter and the evidence they provide of the young photographer's artistic development. Walker Evans: Cuba brings together more than sixty of these imagesall from the Getty Museum's extensive holdings of the photographer's workalong with an essay by the noted writer and commentator Andrei Codrescu.
Codrescu's spirited text helps to provide a sense of the aesthetic and political forces that were shaping Evans's art in the early 1930s. He argues that Evans's photographs are the work of a young artist whose temperament was distinctly at odds with Beals's impassioned rhetoric. Looking closely at individual photographs, Codrescu shows that Evans was just beginning to combine his early, formalist aesthetic with the social concerns that would figure so prominently in his later work. Evans's images and Codrescu's lively, insightful essay provide a compelling study of a major artist at an important juncture in his career.
Andrei Codrescu is a poet, novelist, essayist, and professor of English at Louisiana State University. He is the author of Ay, Cuba! and the editor of Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Letters & Life. Judith Keller is associate curator of photographs at the Getty Museum and the author of Walker Evans: The Getty Museum Collection.
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