License Photo Studio, New York

Artist: Walker Evans (American, St. Louis, Missouri 1903–1975 New Haven, Connecticut)

Date: 1934, printed ca. 1970

Medium: Gelatin silver print

Dimensions: 18.3 x 15.2 cm (7 3/16 x 6 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Gift of Arnold H. Crane, 1972

Accession Number: 1972.742.17

Rights and Reproduction: © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art


This photograph displays Walker Evans' increasingly assured ability to construct meaning out of the juxtaposition of pictorial elements. Here they extend from the hands pointing to the doorway, to the crazy quilt of signs papered across the building's facade, to graffiti scrawled among the signs. Many of Evans' most sophisticated photographs from the period have a rebuslike quality, disclosing previously unnoticed connections in the world. Evans was drawn to the decaying quarters of New York during the Depression-especially to buildings along the waterfront and the Bowery that exhibited, like Paul Strand's blind peddler (33.43.334), a "battered nobility."