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Picturing FaithPhotography and the Great Depression$
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Colleen McDannell

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780300104301

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300104301.001.0001

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Churches Without People

Churches Without People

(p.53) 3 Churches Without People
Picturing Faith

Colleen McDannell

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on Walker Evans, who was appointed as government photographer in 1935. Walker Evans's photographic style was not the abstract realism of Man Ray or the picturesque palette of Stieglitz. Following in the tradition of the nineteenth-century French photographer Eugene Atget, Evans found art in the “real” of the commonplace. While Stryker and Evans could agree on the importance of recording the art of everyday life, Evans did not believe that the point of his photographs was to document poverty in order to motivate social change. Evans would not tolerate the possibility that his photographs might be used as government propaganda for the New Deal. In thinking about his relationship to the newly formed Division of Information, Evans wrote that he would “never make photographic statements for the government or do photographic chores for gov or anyone in gov, no matter how powerful.”

Keywords:   government photographer, Walker Evans, photographic style, commonplace, government propaganda

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