Nov. 3, 2011 at 4:04 PM ET
On this day 108 years ago, Walker Evans was born. Perhaps you never heard of him, but no doubt you have seen his work.
His photojournalism captured the very essence of the Great Depression.
When he died in 1975, the New York Times’ obituary read:
"Mainly in black-and-white and without gimmickry, Mr. Evans's pictures were of sharecroppers, automobile graveyards, faded signs, Western ghost towns, rumpled tenement beds, serried factory windows. Photography, he believed, was the art of seeing unblinkingly; and he stared the assorted malevolence and aborted promises of American society straight in the face, and they stared back.
"His photographs were detached, even understated, but they all carried his trademark of factual exactness. Apart from influencing a younger generation of photographers, Mr. Evans's work affected the way many Americans saw the 20th century, especially the nineteen-thirties. "With an infinitely greater artistry than the Hollywood movies of the period, his photographs embody the moral and esthetic texture of the Depression era with an unrivaled pictorial precision," Hilton Kramer, The New York Times art critic, wrote four years ago.
In these harsh economic times, these photos seem to have even more resonance. The look of despair and lost hope are evident in the faces of more and more Americans.
I just wonder, who will be this generation’s Walker Evans? Do you have a nominee of a worthy photojournalist?