Evans, Walker - HAVANA 1933 - Contrejour 1989 RARE!
- Publisher: Contrejour First Edition edition (1989)
- Language: French
- ISBN-10: 2859490906
- ISBN-13: 978-2859490904
- Package Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 867 g
- Condition; almost mint
Before Evans's collaboration with James Agee in "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men", he collaborated (sort of) with Carleton Beals on a book on Cuba, "The Crime of Cuba". Evans's photographs of Cuba are not nearly as well known as his photographs of the hardscrabble Depression South, but, arguably, they are as penetrating, and they certainly are more diverse. Among other things, they are the earliest examples of Evans's "cool documentary treatment" and they announce, "Here is a great photographer."
In April 1933 an editor at Lippincott asked Evans to take photographs for a polemical book by Beals, a leftist writer who was very critical of the then Cuban dictator Gerardo Machado and anxious to show how American support of Machado had created an economic catastrophe in Cuba. Evans agreed after acceptance of his conditions that he have complete freedom to choose the photographs for publication and that they be collected at the end of the book so that they appeared to be an independent entity and not simply illustration of the text. Indeed, according to legend, Evans had not read Beals's text when he went to Havana in May 1933. He was in Cuba for three weeks. When his personal funds ran out, his way was paid for by Ernest Hemingway; the two had never met before, but Hemingway was eager for the company of someone equally qualified in literary conversation and in drinking.
In the end, Evans contributed thirty-one photographs to the published "The Crime of Cuba". This book, WALKER EVANS: HAVANA 1933, contains seventy of the photographs Evans took in Cuba, including most of the photographs he selected for "The Crime of Cuba". The volume is introduced by an excellent essay by Gilles Mora that gives the historical background and discusses the place of Evans's Cuban photographs in his overall body of work. The photographs were selected by Mora and by John T. Hill, who also was responsible for the sequencing of their presentation. (One of Mora's points is that Evans attached a great deal of significance to the sequencing of his photographs, any collection of which he viewed as a composite artistic/documentary statement and, as such, more important than any single photograph.)
Among the photographs are crowd scenes, street scenes, portraits of individuals, cityscapes, the waterfront, a few country villages, signs, and a classic one that Evans entitled "Havana Citizen" of a tall and lanky dark man, quite worldly in white suit and straw boater at a newsstand. Especially arresting are the photographs of the poor: a street vendor of caramel candy, men in dirty clothes sleeping in shaded public places, two women sleeping on a street bench, one with a wooden, unnatural leg and foot, a beggar, and coal-dust blackened dock workers. A kinship with Evans's later Farm Security Administration photographs is quite evident.
WALKER EVANS: HAVANA 1933 is noteworthy as early yet representative photographs by Walker Evans and as documentation of pre-revolutionary Cuba. I find it as engaging as the other more familiar collections of Evans's photographs.