[Street Scene, Vicksburg, Mississippi], 1936
Walker Evans (American, 1903–1975)
Gelatin silver print; 7 1/8 x 9 1/8 in. (18.1 x 23.1 cm)
Purchase, Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation Gift, in memory of David Nathan Meyerson; and Pat and John Rosenwald and Lila Acheson Wallace Gifts, 1999 (1999.237.1)
In 1935 and 1936, Walker Evans traveled throughout the South, producing the extensive body of work that secured his reputation as America's preeminent photographer. His principal subject was the vernacular: the indigenous expressions of a people found in roadside architecture, cheap cafés at lunch hour, advertisements, simple bedrooms, and small town main streets. Here, before a row of clapboard storefronts in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Evans focused on the barber shop, a salient detail of local street life. He saw the barber shop as a vital expression of the African American community, which, together with the church, nurtured the spirit of neighborhood and preserved folklore by facilitating the dispersion of local news and gossip. In this elegant portrait, the barbers await their loyal customers and sun themselves on a cold winter morning.