Posts Tagged ‘Walker Evans’

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Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

November 27, 2007

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was a collaborative project between writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans that combined elements of essay, portrait, poem, and engaged journalism. This hybrid work grew out of a commissioned magazine article exploring conditions of poor white sharecroppers in the South, but the article was never realized in the original form and instead grew into the volume Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. The work primarily focused on the lives and living conditions of three sharecropper families: the Gudgers, Ricketts, and Woods. At play is an interesting mix of observed detail and intimate storytelling combined with outsider examinations. One section may be objective exterior overview only to be followed up with privileged interior observation concerning the intimate details of a specific day or individual’s life. The work adeptly bounces from interior to exterior vantage points to create a profound understanding of the people involved. In style it is like transcribing the soul’s sense while speaking to the hardships of a particular way of life; mirroring larger societal issues during Roosevelt’s New Deal era.

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