Thursday, March 22, 2012

Did the photographers who worked for the WPA exploit the subjects they were trying to help?


Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange were both photographers who were sent out during the Great Depression to document the poverty of that migrant farm workers and other lower income disenfranchised Americans were suffering from 


http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/lange/dor001.jpgIt would seem that there photographs were a social document that recorded as well as created a sympathetic point of view of these people's demise.  However, Stefanie Däne in her Source Based Project: “FSA Photography: Dorothea Lange &Walker Evans” from 2010 has suggested that these people

... they were actually exploited by the government as a form of propaganda. ... In order to the promote the advantages of family farming, the photographers were ... codes or present other taboo subjects such as child labour.30 Whereas there are ... by the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA),



I wonder if they were.  What do you think?

Right now at the Cantor Center for the Arts there is a wonderful show of Walker Evans Photographs.

Walker Evans

Walker Evans Photographs from Private Collection on View at Cantor Arts Center

February 1 – April 8, 2012

Stanford, Calif. – American photographer Walker Evans (1903–1975), with his direct and unsentimental images of life on small-town streets, in New York subways, and on sharecroppers’ porches, inspired generations of photographers and helped shape contemporary art. The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University presents a broad survey of Evans’ 50-year career, drawn entirely from the collection of Elizabeth and Robert J. Fisher, MBA ’80. The exhibition, entitled “Walker Evans,” opens Feb. 1 and continues through April 8, 2012.

This exhibition encompasses not only Evans’ brilliant documentation of the Great Depression and his work with James Agee on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, the landmark study of three tenant farm families in Alabama published in 1941, but also his little-known experimental photographs from 1928 to 1930; the subway series (1938–41) later published in the monograph Many Are Called; photo-essays for Fortune magazine (1945–65); and rare Polaroid SX-70 prints from his final years. The exhibition includes more than 125 vintage prints as well as an extensive selection of Evans’ original books and magazines. The progenitor of the documentary tradition in American photography, Evans had the extraordinary ability to see the present as if it were already the past, and to translate that knowledge and historically inflected vision into an enduring art.

Presentation of “Walker Evans” is made possible by the Center’s Clumeck Fund and Cantor Arts Center Members.

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VISITOR INFORMATION: Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday – Sunday, 11 am - 5 pm, Thursday until 8 pm. Admission is free. The Center is located on the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at Museum Way. Parking is free after 4 pm weekdays and all day on weekends. Information: 650-723-4177, museum.stanford.edu.
PUBLICITY PHOTOS: For high-resolution images, contact PR Assistant Manager, Margaret Whitehorn: 650-724-3600, mmwhite@stanford.edu


View related programs.
WE_Farmer

Walker Evans,
Alabama Tenant Farmer, 1936. Gelatin silver print. Lent by Elizabeth and Robert J. Fisher, MBA ’80. © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Walker Evans, Main Street, Saratoga Springs,
New York, 1931. Gelatin silver print. Lent by Elizabeth and Robert J. Fisher, MBA ’80.
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Walker Evans, Broadway, 1930. Gelatin silver print.
Lent by Elizabeth and Robert J. Fisher, MBA ’80.
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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