Walker Evans, New York City, Street Corner, High Ang
New York City, Street Corner, High Angle View, circa 1929. Gelatin silver print. 2 1/2 x 1 5/8 in. (6.4 x 4.1 cm). Credit stamp, ‘Collection Arnold H. Crane, Chicago’ stamp, inscribed ’For Nia..., 17 Nov. ’73’ and signed by Crane in pencil on the verso.
THE FACE OF MODERNISM: A PRIVATE WEST COAST COLLECTION
PROVENANCE From the artist’s studio; to the Collection of Arnold H. Crane, Chicago The Collection of Eugenia Parry, New Mexico Private Collection, New York
LITERATURE Harper & Row, Walker Evans at Work, p. 29 there titled and dated New York City, 1928 or 1929 Keller, Walker Evans: The Getty Museum Collection, pl. 115
Walker Evans’s image New York City, Street Corner, High Angle View, circa 1929, shows the influence of the avant-garde Modernists residing in France during the 1920s. After dropping out of Williams College and working at a French language bookstore and at the New York Public Library—two venues that would have provided him with access to the works of his forward-thinking counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic—Evans moved to Paris in 1926. While there, Evans took literature classes at l’Université de Paris-Sorbonne, and, for a steady source of income, translated French literature by such literary giants as Jean Cocteau, André Gide and Baudelaire into English. Motivated by Baudelaire’s writings in particular, Evans embraced the role of the social voyeur, taking inspiration from the sights and scenes of the streets. It was in Paris that he began taking snapshots with a Vest Pocket Kodak roll-film camera. Upon his return to the United States in 1927, Evans settled in Brooklyn, New York and continued nurturing his newfound love for photography using his roll-film camera and later, a borrowed Leica. In his architectural images from that period, such as New York City, Street Corner, High Angle View, circa 1929, Evans, like the Modernists László Moholy-Nagy and André Kertész, showed his deftness at photographing abstraction and at embracing radical viewpoints. The current lot presents an unexpected viewpoint that dramatizes depth and scale and stands as a Formalist study in line, texture and shadow. The famed collector of 19th and 20th century photography, Arnold H. Crane, whose collection stamp is found on the verso, sold his collection to the Getty Museum in 1985. Sweetly inscribed “For Nia” this print was gifted in 1973 by Crane to the art historian Eugenia Parry. In addition to the current lot, there are two other known contact prints of this image from the original negative: one at The Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and the other at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.