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Community Choices

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Coal Dock Worker

1933; printed 1971
20th Century
7 1/2. x 6 in.

Walker Evans,

Object Type: Work on Paper
Medium and Support: photograph on paper
Credit Line: Florence Griswold Museum: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph F. Besier in Honor of the Centennial
Accession Number: 1999.16
Future Lyme resident Walker Evans traveled to Havana in 1933 to make pictures for The Crime of Cuba, a book by Carleton Beals criticizing the country’s dictator Gerardo Machado y Morales and the United States’s support for his regime. Evans shot hundreds of negatives during his stay, photographing everyone from beggars and policemen to the grimy collier pictured here. Evans’s sensitive portrait of the ragged dockworker not only acknowledges the extreme poverty in which islanders lived but also looks forward to the iconic portraits the photographer made of inhabitants of rural Alabama for James Agee’s book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Although not published in The Crime of Cuba, the dockworker’s portrait did appear in American Photographs, a 1938 book that accompanied an exhibition by Evans at the Museum of Modern Art. Later, it was also reproduced in a portfolio of fourteen photographs by Evans printed by Ives-Sillman of New Haven. This print is from that portfolio.

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