The Easel

19th October 2021

A new look at Walker Evans

Evans’ crystal clear, elegant images helped establish documentary photography. Who was the person behind these “deadpan, yet astonishing” pictures? He portrayed his subjects with dignity, but seems not to have harboured any activism – one critic notes he had little of “either politics or empathy”. His interest was just the aesthetics of buildings and people. Yet that subject matter was enough for him to help “define the contours of a uniquely American culture”.

12th October 2021

Man Ray’s Slow Fade From the Limelight

A new biography of Man Ray does little to bolster his fading reputation. Philadelphia born, he moved to Paris in 1921, drawn by its creative buzz. Aspirations to be a painter came to nothing but in photography his exploration of “technical epiphanies” made his name. These images never gelled into a signature style, suggestive of the “pinched radius of Ray’s genius”. Ray’s stylistic fingerprints can still be seen in fashion photography but elsewhere his cultural impact is “unnoticed”.