Walker Evans Subway Portrait 1938-41

  • Not on view

In the late 1930s Evans began bringing a hidden camera into the New York subway. The lens of his camera peeking through the buttons of his coat, he would photograph his fellow passengers on what he called the “swaying sweatbox.” Evans’s fellow photographers Rudy Burckhardt and Dan Weiner also regularly captured images of New York subway commuters, many of whom were working-class people. These photos helped bolster the mission of the Photo League, a cooperative (of which Burckhardt and Weiner were members) that formed in 1936 with a commitment to progressive social reform.

Gallery label from 2022
Additional text

Have you ever taken someone’s photo without them noticing? Evans secretly photographed people while riding the New York City subway with his friend and fellow photographer Helen Levitt. The photos capture people reading or lost in their own thoughts. What do you notice about how these riders look? Imagine what they might be thinking.

Kids label from 2022
Gelatin silver print
7 × 7 3/8" (17.8 × 18.7 cm)
Object number
© 2024 Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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