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Pair of Exhibitions on Walker Evans to Open This Summer at the Getty Museum

Walker Evans & Company: Works from The Museum of Modern Art
(July 10-September 16, 2001)

The American Tradition & Walker Evans: Photographs from the Getty Collection
(July 10-October 28, 2001)

Press Preview: Tuesday, July 10, 2001, 9-11 a.m.

April 25, 2001

Los Angeles--Two exhibitions opening at the J. Paul Getty Museum this summer will explore the work of American photographer Walker Evans (1903-75) in relation to its sources and influences. Together, the exhibitions will encompass more than 350 works by 100 artists. Walker Evans & Company: Works from The Museum of Modern Art, a wide-ranging exhibition organized by The Museum of Modern Art in New York that explores Evans' influence on other artists, will be on view in the Exhibitions Pavilion at the Getty from July 10 through September 16, 2001. This will be its only showing outside of New York, where the highly acclaimed exhibition was on view last year as a part of Making Choices, the second cycle of the MoMA2000 trilogy of exhibitions from its permanent collection. The exhibition features approximately 60 photographs by Evans as well as nearly 200 works by other artists including photographs, paintings, sculpture, and prints. Approximately 20 pieces that were published in the Walker Evans & Company catalogue but not displayed in New York will be on view in the exhibition at the Getty.

The American Tradition & Walker Evans: Photographs from the Getty Collection, on view from July 10 through October 28, 2001, will complement Walker Evans & Company by showcasing more than 100 photographs from the Getty Museum's own collection. It will illuminate how photographers working before and around Evans explored the quintessence of American life and, like Evans, captured and defined from their own perspectives subjects that are typically American. In addition to 40 Walker Evans photographs, The American Tradition & Walker Evans will include works by artists ranging from regional photographers, such as the Langenheim brothers of Philadelphia and Carleton Watkins of San Francisco, to classic photographs from the first half of the 20th century by artists such as Lewis Hine, Dorothea Lange, Paul Strand, and Doris Ulmann.

"Walker Evans is one of the great strengths of the Getty Museum's photographs collection. We are delighted to have this opportunity to explore both his sources and his influences, drawing on the rich resources of two institutions," said Weston Naef, curator of the Getty Museum's department of photographs.

Both exhibitions are launched from the work created in the 1930s for which Evans is best known, but Walker Evans & Company concentrates on the decades from that point to the present while The American Tradition & Walker Evans will focus on Evans' 19th-century predecessors.

Walker Evans & Company

Walker Evans & Company, organized by Peter Galassi, chief curator, department of photography at MoMA, reexamines Evans' achievement through its rich artistic legacy. The exhibition is organized in eight sections, each devoted to a single dimension of Evans' work. Each group of Evans' photographs is presented together with works by other artists that anticipate, extend, or otherwise resonate with a given dimension of Evans' art. In this way, the exhibition employs tradition as a sounding board to amplify salient aspects of Evans' work and adopts his photography as a lens through which to explore the unfolding of artistic tradition.

Among the more than 70 artists represented in the exhibition are Berenice Abbott, Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Eugne Atget, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Harry Callahan, Stuart Davis, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, William Eggleston, Louis Faurer, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Robert Gober, Feliz Gonzalez-Torres, Jan Groover, Andreas Gursky, Edward Hopper, Russell Lee, Roy Lichtenstein, Wright Morris, Robert Rauschenberg, Edward Ruscha, August Sander, Michael Schmidt, Cindy Sherman, Stephen Shore, Thomas Struth, Andy Warhol, Edward Weston, and Marion Post Wolcott.

Evans produced much of his most important work for the government agency now best known as the Farm Security Administration. Although Evans' photographs are habitually celebrated as documents of the Great Depression, Walker Evans & Company aims to show that his interrogation of American society ranged far beyond the troubles of the Depression and continued to reverberate long after the 1930s. After World War II his example of skeptical engagement with the contemporary scene proved invaluable to a diverse roster of younger photographers, beginning with Frank, Friedlander, and Arbus.

In the 1960s and later, the leaders of the Pop Art movement and its successors reinvigorated American painting and sculpture by embracing the everyday world. They demonstrated that both Evans' vernacular iconography--car culture, billboards and advertising, the movies, thrift-shop ephemera--and his mixing of ironic detachment and open affection were not time-honored relics of the 1930s but essential resources of contemporary art, as was his nimble approach to photography as transparent fact, potent symbol, and medium of recycled replication.

"Evans' discovery that the medium of mug shots and real estate ads could be the stuff of high art has been enormously influential," Galassi said. "By dispensing with the pictorial flourishes and privileged subjects that had prevailed before he arrived on the scene, he opened artistically ambitious photography to any and all subjects and to the full range of the medium's descriptive curiosity. In the process he radically broadened modern art's sustained engagement with the world outside the studio."

This exhibition was organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the presentation in New York was made possible by Robert and Joyce Menschel, Mrs. Jan Cowles, The Starr Foundation, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, the Contemporary Exhibition Fund of The Museum of Modern Art, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Note to editors: color images available upon request.

Related books

The Museum of Modern Art has published a catalogue of the same title to accompany the exhibition Walker Evans & Company. The 272-page book by Mr. Galassi includes 67 color and 323 duotone illustrations (clothbound: $55 and paperbound: $34.95).

Walker Evans' photographs of life in Cuba in 1933 are the subject of a new Getty publication, Walker Evans: Cuba. The 96-page book includes more than 60 photographs from the Getty Museum's collection and an essay by writer and commentator Andrei Codrescu (hardcover: $24.95). This book complements three other Walker Evans titles published by the Getty--Walker Evans: The Getty Museum Collection, Walker Evans: Signs, and Walker Evans: Florida.

All of these books are available in the Getty Museum bookstore, via the Internet at, or by calling 800-223-3431.

Related Events

Weston Naef, curator, department of photographs, J. Paul Getty Museum
Thursday, July 12, 7:00 p.m.
Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Free, but reservations are required. For reservations and information, the public may call (310) 440-7300 or visit

Peter Galassi, chief curator, department of photography, The Modern Museum of Art
Thursday, September 13, 7:00 p.m.
Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Free, but reservations are required. For reservations and information, the public may call (310) 440-7300 or visit

Film Series

In celebration of Walker Evans, the Getty and the UCLA Film Archive present a free film series exploring the history and intersections of photography and film from 1900 to the present.

Every Friday and Saturday beginning Friday, July 13 through Saturday, August 4, 7:30 p.m. Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Free, but reservations are required. For reservations and information, the public may call (310) 440-7300 or visit

Family Festival
A day of celebration with performances by local dance and musical groups, storytelling and art-making workshops related to the Walker Evans exhibitions.
Sunday, August 5, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Free. No reservations required.

Point-of-View Gallery Talks
Anthony Hernandez, Los Angeles photographer
Friday, July 27, 6 and 7:30 p.m. Museum galleries
Limited to 25 people per talk. Free. Visitors may sign up at the Museum Information Desk beginning at 4:30 p.m.

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About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

Sign up for e-Getty at to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit our event calendar for a complete calendar of public programs.

The J. Paul Getty Museum collects in seven distinct areas, including Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts, and European and American photographs. The Museum's mission is to make the collection meaningful and attractive to a broad audience by presenting and interpreting the works of art through educational programs, special exhibitions, publications, conservation, and research.