Havana: 1933

by Walker Evans

A very lovely project by Walker Evans as a young man. Much of the credit for this excellent monograph goes to curator Gilles Mora: Mora gives us full frame versions of Evans’ images. Evans typically cropped his photos, usually to their detriment.

Evans traveled to Cuba at an interesting time: just before the communist revolution. He was assigned to illustrate a socialist critique of Cuba’s Machado regime.

Photographically speaking, it interests me that he brought two cameras, each with a single lens. This is different from the typical photographic kit of one camera and multiple lenses. Evans brought an 8×10 view camera, which he used mainly for powerful, low-depth-of-field portraits, and a folding “hand-camera” for street photography.

The two techniques give this work a duality that I like. I also like that it is a very rare example of published art made with the old folding roll film cameras. These would be considered medium format today. Evans’ camera was very sharp and had a nearly panoramic, or letterbox aspect ratio. It is very beautiful street photography.

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