he Art Museum of WVU is the first venue on a national tour of an installation that
celebrates photographer Walker Evans’s landmark solo exhibition at New York’s
Museum of Modern Art in 1938.
A leading figure in the history of American documentary photography, Walker Evans is today considered one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.
In the 1930s, Evans traveled extensively throughout the Eastern United States, creating a collective photographic portrait of the region during a decade of profound transformation—one that coincided with the flood of everyday images, both still and moving, from an expanding mass culture and the construction of a Modernist history of photography. Evans visited West Virginia during this period, documenting Morgantown and the nearby mining community of Scotts Run at the height of the Great Depression.
Included in this reimagined exhibition are 60 photographs organized in two sections, as in the original: the first portrays American society through images of its individuals and social contexts, while the second consists of photographs of American cultural artifacts—the architecture of Main streets, factory towns, rural churches, and wooden houses.
Walker Evans American Photographs is based on an exhibition originally organized by Sarah Hermanson Meister, Curator, with Tasha Lutek, Collection Specialist, Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Support provided by Art Bridges.
In conjunction with Walker Evans American Photographs, on display in the Upper Gallery, the Art Museum is featuring the work of four contemporary photographers in an adjacent gallery installation. Matt Eich, Mitch Epstein, Andrea Modica, and Jared Thorne each make pictures that resonate with Walker Evans’s photographs in distinctive ways, both visually and conceptually—and sometimes unexpectedly. Together they demonstrate how Evans’s work continues to influence artists today, nearly a century after he first visited the region.
In January 2021, the Art Museum will debut a dynamic exhibition in the McGee Gallery that explores the breadth and depth of the permanent collection by bringing ideas and objects together in new ways.
Visitors will experience the gallery in three distinct sections, including an installation dedicated to West Virginia native and noted American modern artist Blanche Lazzell. The two other sections will feature prints made by women artists and late 19th- and early 20th-century American landscapes.
After this inaugural presentation, the McGee Gallery will rotate every fall and spring, offering new ways of looking at the collection through thematic exhibits drawn from the museum’s holdings of more than 4,000 objects in diverse media.
IMAGE: Blanche Lazzell (1878–1956), Black and Blue, 1952, Oil on canvas, Art Museum of WVU Collection, 1995.7.3