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Celebrating the Negative : Walker Evans by John Loengard


In the summer of 1936, Bud Field and his family posed for Walker Evans and James Agee, two young journalists from New York City on assignment for Fortune magazine to investigate the conditions of tenant cotton farmers in Alabama. Since Evans was on loan from a federal government agency concerned with the plight of small farmers, the government owns his negatives.

Although Fortune did not publish the story, Evans and Agee used the material in their 1941 book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. For a later edition, Evans approved the dust-jacket copy that read, “If most professional photography is dominated by the commercial stance or artistic posture, Evans is in recoil from these. His work might even be said to have brought photographic style back around to the plain, relentless snapshot.”

His thin, that is to say, somewhat underexposed or underdeveloped 8 x 10 inch negative remains at the Library of Congress. The negative retains an eerie sense of being present in the “square pine room” where it was made.

John Loengard, Celebrating the Negative is available to museums as a touring exhibition from Curatorial Assistance.

Celebrating the Negative
by John Loengard
Release in 1994
Published by Arcade Publishing

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