man and woman

%C2%A9 Walker Evans Archive%2C The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Subway Portrait, 1938-1941

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  75.25.14

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From 1938 to 1941, Walker Evans photographed New Yorkers in the subway by hiding his camera inside his coat and running the shutter trigger down his sleeve to his hand. He traveled with a friend of his, fellow photographer Helen Levitt, because he felt that it would make the picture-taking less conspicuous. By doing so, he removed any ability of the subjects to “pose” for the camera, and instead captured them as they were, lost in their moods, the newspaper, or the people they were traveling with. “The guard is down and the mask is off,” Evans says, “Even more than in lone bedrooms… People’s faces are in naked repose down in the subway.” Evans’ technique created unique images, but raise questions about the ethics of photographing people without their knowledge or consent.

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Walker Evans (#747)
Details
Title
Subway Portrait
Artist Life
1903–1975
Role
Photographer
Accession Number
75.25.14
Curator Approved

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man and woman

© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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