Vancouver Sun, by Kevin Griffin, October 30, 2016
Walker Evans: Depth of Field
To Jan. 22 | Vancouver Art Gallery. Info: vanartgallery.bc.ca
They’re a group of prints showing four, commonplace tools. Enlarged many times their actual size, they’ve become something much more monumental.
They include tin snips, a crescent wrench and, my favourite, a crate opener. The latter stands out because the large format print makes it easy to read the lettering on the side that names it as a particular type of crate opener called a Baby Terrier.
The prints are all black and white. The even lighting virtually eliminates any shadows and highlights the texture of the metal surfaces. Their directness and simplicity made me think of another important but absent tool: the camera used by the photographer.
Even though they’re neither arty nor dramatic, they were part of a series called Beauties of the Common Tool published in the 1950s in Fortune, a high-end magazine that I wouldn’t normally associate with such experimental photography.
But they made it into print because they were the work of Walker Evans who, at the time, was Fortune’s staff photographer.