Florence Griswold Museum

October 1, 2011 - January 29, 2012

The Exacting Eye of Walker Evans

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gallery / Houses and Billboards, Atlanta, 1936

Houses and Billboards, Atlanta, 1936

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Houses and Billboards, Atlanta, 1936

Walker Evans
Private Collection

On March 23, 1937, Evans was cut from the Farm Security Administration, ending his contract with the government, and his bi-weekly checks of $120. The government owned the rights to his photographs including House and Billboards, Atlanta. The image later appeared in Land of the Free, a 1938 book by Archibald MacLeish, without Evans' prior knowledge. The accompanying poem about rural decay seemed mismatched with Evans' photo of two walled up Victorian homes in the heart of Atlanta.

The oval porch decorations on the houses visually rhyme with the eyes of Anne Shirley and Carole Lombard pictured on the billboards. As if to blur the boundaries between art, popular culture, and life, Evans frequently incorporated movie posters into his imagery over the course of his career. In 1932 Cuba, where he befriended Ernest Hemingway, Evans' captured a street scene that included a poster for the film version of A Farewell to Arms. In Bridgeport, Connecticut, he photographed a movie poster for Tobacco Road, a 1933 novel about poor tenant farmers of rural Georgia, adapted into 1941's comedic film version directed by John Ford.