National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: The Streets of New York: American Photographs from the Collection, 1938–1958

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Exhibition Information

Walker Evans
American, 1903–1975
Subway Portrait, 1938
gelatin silver print
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Gift of Kent and Marcia Minichiello, in Honor of
the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art

In 1938 Walker Evans embarked on a radically new series of photographs. He concealed his 35mm camera under his coat—its lens poking out between his buttons and a shutter release down his sleeve—and surreptitiously photographed subway riders in New York. Aware that people would inevitably compose themselves and alter their expressions if they knew they were being photographed, he did not raise the camera to his eye to look through its viewfinder, nor did he adjust its focus or exposure, or use a flash. Evans abandoned all the controls that a photographer normally employed and strove to make portraits of "detachment and record," dependent on chance and intuition.

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