The first fifty pages were just what I would expect, beautifully produced photos, one photo per two-page spread. Interesting subjects mainly of people which is just what I like. The last thirty-eight pages were mainly of buildings some of which I liked where they were broader views but rather to many close ups of houses. The core of the book, the photographs, are well worth having. Walker Evans at his best. If you like these sorts of books this is one you need to have in your bookcase.
At the end there are nine and a half pages of text written by Lincoln Kirstein who was one of America's most important cultural figures. I have to say his writing went quite over my head, perhaps I am dim or my be a philistine but the first three and a half pages were about `Early masters of photography', `The candid camera' and `The uses of photography today' I found almost unreadable because I hardly understood any of it, there did not seem any point to it in this book. The rest of the text by Kirstein was about Walker Evans, we get passages like `But after looking at these pictures with all their clear, hideous and beautiful detail, their open insanity and pitiful grandeur' now I know what each of the words means but collectively they seem meaningless to me. What has `open sanity' got to do with it, what does it mean? I must be ill educated. I would have liked a simple run through of his life, why he took the photos, what cameras and film he took them with and how he went about it. Photographers like to know these things. Having said all that Kirstein was his patron and did much to sponsor him and promote his work for which we are all thankful. The last two pages are by Sarah Hermanson Meister of the Museum of Modern art in New York. It runs through the history of the book, the various editions and exhibitions the museum held all of which I found quite interesting. It is the photos I bought the book for and with them I am really pleased.
My concern with this book was that it might be a pastiche of the original. This is not the case and I write to reassure others. This is a good facsimile and faithful to the original where possible. My recollection of leafing through an original copy (I did not own it) was that the plates were lush but definition was limited by the economics of the print process. This book surpasses the original providing duo-tone plates of remarkable quality. A beautiful and rewarding book, don't hesitate.
Iconic. One day USA was not rich. Here are the pictures. Or only rich in patches - certain places. There was obviously a quantum leap in productive capacity during WW2 and the Korean War which must have created 'affluence'. But these pictures show the reality before that, when advertising was largely limited to a Coca-Cola sign. Wonderful photography. For baby boomers like myself, we can remember our societies without 'affluence', and thus connect with these photos. These picture show 'Life', as it was considered to be - an inevitable grind and struggle.
This is a beautiful book of his work. My only criticism is that a few of the images lack depth and detail in the highlights - whether a fault with the original photographic prints or in printing the book, I cannot say.